Solar Appreciation Day is an annual event that raises awareness about the importance and benefits of solar energy. It’s celebrated worldwide on the second Friday of March (March 10th in 2023). Solar Appreciation Day recognizes the role of solar energy in meeting our energy needs, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and combating climate change.
Individuals, organizations, and governments celebrate with events and activities that educate the public about the benefits of solar energy and encourage the adoption of solar energy systems. It’s the perfect opportunity for people to learn more about solar energy and how it can be used to power homes, businesses, and communities. But what about farms and gardens? Let’s explore how solar power is being used in large- and small-scale agriculture.
What Is Agrivoltaics?
Solar power in agriculture is known as agrivoltaics, which involves the integration of solar panels and agricultural production in the same land area. This innovative approach combines two important industries to increase land use efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.
Agrivoltaic systems can take different forms, such as shading crops with solar panels, planting crops under solar panels, or installing solar panels over water surfaces for aquaculture. The shading effect of solar panels can improve crop growth and yield by:
- Reducing temperatures
- Reducing water evaporation
- Providing shelter from wind
- Increasing humidity
This can also result in decreased need for irrigation, fertilization, and pesticides. Furthermore, the solar panels generate electricity that can be used to power irrigation systems, greenhouses, and other farm equipment.
Studies have shown that agrivoltaic systems can increase land use efficiency by up to 60%. This means that the same amount of land can produce more food and energy simultaneously. Additionally, agrivoltaics can reduce the environmental impact of agriculture by decreasing water use and carbon emissions.
Small-Scale Solar Power
Solar gardens are the clean energy version of community gardens; instead of community members sharing a garden plot, they share the electricity produced from a common solar panel setup. While these solar gardens are greatly beneficial, their impact can be doubled when combined with the benefits of community gardens. Some solar gardens have begun planting crops in their unused space, creating small-scale versions of agrivoltaic systems used on farms.
Other small-scale uses of solar power in agriculture include solar greenhouses. Greenhouses curate healthy climates for crops, but are often very energy-intensive. Fortunately, the implementation of solar power can make them much more environmentally friendly!
Here at Appetite For Change, we’re building our own passive solar greenhouse! It’ll use solar energy to generate heat in the winter and extend our growing season. That means we’ll be able to provide North Minneapolis with year-round access to fresh, local produce and space to research and grow seedlings, herbs, and other medicinal plants.
At Appetite For Change, we use food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change. Donate today to support our incredible impact in North Minneapolis! Together, we can create well-rooted and flourishing change!