Tag Archive for: Sustainable Agriculture

This episode is a conversation between NCAT Energy Program Director Stacie Peterson and Iain Ward, a farmer and founder of Solar Agricultural Services.

It is the sixth in a series of AgriSolar Clearinghouse podcasts that are being featured on ATTRA’S Voices from the Field podcast.

Stacie and Iain discuss the potential of agrisolar as way to remove barriers to entry into farming, how agrisolar is shifting the solar industry to consider regenerative agriculture, practical considerations for getting started in agrisolar, Iain’s connection with Wendell Berry, and Wendell’s thoughts on co-locating solar and agriculture. 

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Contact Stacie Peterson at stacieb@ncat.org.

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You can get in touch with NCAT/ATTRA specialists and find access to our trusted, practical sustainable-agriculture publications, webinars, videos, and other resources at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) under the Solar Energy Technologies Office Award Number DE-EE000937. Legal Disclaimer: The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Energy or the United States Government.

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.

This review will discuss the external factors controlling the abundance of rhizosphere microbiota and the impact of crop management practices on soil health and their role in sustainable crop production.

Blueberries are big business in Maine, contributing upwards of $250 million to the state economy each year. That’s why a new partnership among blueberry growers, researchers, and the solar industry to harness the power of sun caught our attention.

The potential for this project to pave the way in providing farmers with alternative income streams while still producing the iconic Maine wild blueberry is exciting, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said Dr. Lily Calderwood, University of Maine Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist.

Currently, 38 U.S. blueberry farms contribute more than $4.7 billion to the economy annually. In Maine, blueberries contribute to $250 million to the economy.

We’re pleased to be working alongside the University of Maine as well as industry leaders like Navisun and BlueWave Solar on this innovative project that will help promote the growth of the agrivoltaics market as well as support local farmers,” said Chris Ichter, director of business development at CS Energy.

Research indicates that the co-location of solar arrays with crops may reduce water usage by 30% and increase crop production by 70%. With an already large contribution to Maine’s economy, blueberry farmers, as well as others, may benefit greatly from combining crops and solar.

The pilot program outlined what are known as “dual-use challenges.” This study will attempt to understand some of those concerns by using half of the 10-acre project as a control group to study “optimal solar construction techniques.”

CS Energy, Navisun and BlueWave Solar have all been incredibly engaged and cooperative throughout the whole process, which is crucial, as this is not only the first project of its kind for the University of Maine, but also for the entire state,” said Dr. Lily Calderwood, University of Maine Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist.

The research findings of this program will not only help future developers plan and execute effective dual-use systems, but ultimately will help support local farmers through advancing clean energy and discovering new income streams.

The Maces Pond Agrivoltaics Pilot Project in Rockport, Maine is the result of a collaboration between Bluewave Solar, Navisun LLC, and CS Energy, and the University of Maine. Read more about this partnership, here.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology has launched America’s first AgriSolar Clearinghouse to connect farmers, ranchers, land managers, solar developers, and researchers with trusted, practical information to increase the co-location of solar and agriculture.   

In less than a decade, solar installations are expected to cover more than 3 million acres of the United States, creating a big opportunity to pair solar with agricultural land to produce food, conserve ecosystems, create renewable energy, increase pollinator habitat, and maximize farm revenue.   

 In this episode of the ATTRA podcast series, Voices from the Field, NCAT Communications Director Emilie Ritter Saunders speaks with Energy Programs Director Stacie Peterson, Phd., about how the AgriSolar Clearinghouse aims to make solar more accessible to land managers looking to make the most out of their land, diversify their revenue, and produce renewable energy.   

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Please complete a brief survey to let us know your thoughts about the content of this podcast.

You can get in touch with NCAT/ATTRA specialists and find our other extensive, and free, sustainable-agriculture publications, webinars, videos, and other resources on NCAT/ATTRA’s homepage.

This podcast is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.