Solar Grazing

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Use of Solar Panels for Shade for Holstein Heifers

In this study, researchers examined the impacts of animal agrivoltaics on the thermal comfort and wellbeing experienced by dairy heifers, and the potential benefit of offsetting enteric methane emissions. The shade provided by the solar panels efficiently relieved the heat load on the cattle, cooled off their body surface and skin temperatures, and decreased the costs of thermoregulation. Researchers concluded that 4.1 m2 of solar panels would be necessary to offset the methane emitted by the cows.
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Greener Sheep: Life cycle analysis of integrated sheep agrivoltaic systems

This life cycle assessment study investigates the environmental performance of sheep-based agrivoltaic systems, and concludes that agrivoltaic systems are superior to conventional ground-mounted PV systems because they have dual purposes and reduce the environmental impacts associated with producing food and electricity.
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Effect of Stocking Rate on Forage Yield and Vegetation Management Success in Ground Mounted Solar Arrays Grazed by Sheep

The main goal of this research was to find optimal management strategies for sheep flocks kept on solar arrays. Researchers studied flock health and productivity parameters, as well as forage production and quality in a multi-year colloborative trial on a 54-acre solar array adjacent to Cornell University campus. The study concluded that stocking densities of 12, 16, and 20 sheep per acre were successful in maintaining the vegetation within solar arrays, while grazing densities between 12 and 16 sheep per acre may be more complementary for flock health and condition.

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

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.
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Managing Grazing to Restore Soil Health, Ecosystem Function, and Ecosystem Services

This resource discusses components of managed grazing such as: historical herbivore effects on grasslands, limitations of past research, managing grazing to restore ecological function and management tactics used to achieve sustainable finance goals. All of these considerations relate to aspects of developing AgriSolar operations that include grazing and a need for grazing strategies. Scientists partnering with farmers and ranchers around the world who have improved their land resource base and excel financially have documented how such land managers produce sound environmental, social, and economic outcomes. Many of these producers have used Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing management as a highly effective approach for managing their grazing lands sustainably.