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Herbage Yield, Lamb Growth and Foraging Behavior in Agrivoltaic Production System

This study was conducted to compare lamb growth and pasture production from solar pastures in agrivoltaic systems and traditional open pastures over two years in Oregon. This study showed that successful agrivoltaic systems are possible where lamb and energy production can be produced simultaneously from the same land. Comparable spring lamb growth and liveweight production per hectare from open and solar pastures demonstrate that agrivoltaic systems would not decrease the production value and potential of the land. In investigating the land use equivalence ratio, agrivoltaics enables increasing the land productivity up to 1.81 for pasture production and 2.04 for spring lamb production through combining sheep grazing and solar energy production on the same land as compared to single use systems. In addition to the increased land productivity and improved animal welfare, the results from this study support the benefits of agrivoltaics as a sustainable agricultural system. Overall, lower pasture yields under in fully shaded areas under the solar panels were the main cause of inferior pasture production in agrivoltaic sites. When designing pasture mixtures for agrivoltaic systems, a selection of pasture species that are not only tolerant to shade but also persistent under heavy traffic should be considered. Limiting the daily grazing time (e.g., on-off grazing: 3 h-grazing/d only) or rotational grazing pastures at low grazing intensities may be viable options for sustainable grazing of seasonally wet soils under solar panels.