A Preliminary Investigation of the Effect of Solar Panels, Rotation Frequency on the Grazing Behavior of Sheep

Emma W. Kampherbeek, Laura E. Webb, Beth J. Reynolds, Seeta A. Sistla,
Marc R. Horney, Raimon Ripoll-Bosch, Jason P. Dubowsky, Zachary D. McFarlane

A study led by Emma Kampherbeek (Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands)  highlights multiple benefits of coupling solar energy production to sheep grazing in rangeland systems. This project investigated how sheep use solar arrays as a forage site and the impacts of solar array presence on forage quality in a California Central Coast site with a Mediterranean climate. Sheep with access to solar panels graze more than when they are on nearby native rangeland without an array.  This increased foraging behavior is likely driven by a combination of the protection that the array provides the sheep from weather conditions, which increases grazing time, as well as increased protein content and digestibility of forage with the array footprint.