Agrisolar Clearinghouse Icon

This document focuses specifically on solar energy generation that is designed to be compatible with continued farming, whereby little or no land is taken out of production. Primary agricultural soils are those defined as having the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber and oilseed crops. Because of the value of these soils from a productivity standpoint, it is generally desirable to protect them from uses that would otherwise remove them from agricultural use. As is illustrated in the case studies, farming-friendly solar is possible. In the examples, several farms have married on-farm solar with rotational grazing of livestock. Another has located their solar system in a buffer area required as part of their organic certification. As planners, it is important not to simply reject the concept of solar on farms or farmland out of hand. Instead, it is needed to consider how these systems can benefit farmers and how they can be utilized in conjunction with active farming to achieve energy goals and protect the viability of agriculture in communities. All of these farmers were pleased with the arrangement they had made for the dual purposes of grazing and providing land space for solar panel arrays. Yet each one of them also mentioned a deep commitment to preserving the best agricultural land for agricultural uses first – and thus the common refrain of thinking it all through before any breaking of ground. The structures are large and change how the land is used. All encouraged the idea of using lower-impact places such as a roof or land that cannot be used for agricultural purposes, first. And secondly, the importance of a revenue source to the farm/farmer for the use of that land supporting the solar array.