Today’s farmers are embracing a lot of forms of technology. From automated watering systems to careful blends of food for their animals, they are maximizing their time and resources in order to produce quality products. Farmers are also embracing solar power in order to cut down on resources and save money.
Half Farmland, Half Solar Panels
Solar power and other green energy sources are gaining speed around the USA. The nation has a lot of farmland, and forward-thinking farmers are putting it to use. Most farms have a couple of acres that are not in active use for growing food or raising animals. Savvy farmers are using that land to install solar panels. Just one acre of farmland is enough to install 625 solar panels and produce 400,000 kWh of electricity. The efficiency of installing a lot of panels on a plot of land allows farmers to have a short payback period. Most farmers will recoup their investments in five to six years.
The idea of putting solar panels on chicken farms might seem unusual at first, but it makes a lot of sense. Chicken farming has changed over the years. On small farms, chickens are given space to go outside. Electricity is one of the highest expenses of running a chicken farm. Installing solar panels not only cuts that expense, but it may also add a profit to the farming enterprise. Chickens need shelter, and the modern chicken coop design is ideal for the placement of solar panels. The modern commercial chicken coop is mobile, designed with a chicken’s comfort in mind.
Creating a Positive Ripple Effect for the Environment
When one farmer is willing to take the leap to solar power, the action serves as inspiration for neighboring farmers to install solar panels, too. That is what happened in one community when four neighboring farmers installed solar panels after one farmer took the plunge into green energy. The first farmer did it for both the monetary and environmental effects. Word got out about the farmer’s reduced electricity bills. The neighbors came to take a look. After seeing the electric meter spinning backward, they decided to go for it. Together, the farms produce enough electricity to power 300 typical single-family homes.
Reducing Monthly Expenditures
One of the top benefits of solar power for farmers is the lower electricity bills. On one 13-house chicken farm, the owner installed 350 solar panels. He monitors them with an app on his iPhone. The certified solar panel technicians estimated his savings would be around $10,500 per year through lower electricity bills. The farmer’s savings have been closer to $32,500 per year. This is through lower monthly electricity bills and selling excess electricity back to the utility company through the power grid.
Getting Grants and Loans for Solar Panels on Chicken Farms
The cost of installing solar panels is a lot up front, and you might not have the cash in hand to make that investment. Fortunately, there are options to reduce your initial expenses. The United States Department of Agriculture offers several grant and loan programs for solar panel installation on chicken farms. The Rural Energy for America Program under the United States Department of Agriculture offers grants for small and large poultry farmers to install solar panels. The grants do not need to be repaid. The loans have affordable terms.
Doubling Up on Land Use
Doubling up on the use of farmland could increase productivity by 60 percent. Farmers who grow crops could install bifacial solar panels, which allow the sun’s energy to be collected from both sides of the panels. These panels are held up on scaffolding, providing space underneath for crops. In Germany, farmers grow wheat, potatoes and other crops under the panels. This technology could also be used by poultry farmers. Modern chicken coop design and mobile chicken houses could allow for the houses to be moved under different sets of scaffolding as needed.
Turning a Higher Profit
In some places, the use of farmland for biofuel creates a conflict. Using the land to grow crops to use as fuel puts it at odds with growing food for human or animal consumption. Solar panels give farmers the opportunity to do both. They can turn a higher profit per acre with solar panels and crops on the same lot of land. In a time when many farmers have to rely on federal government subsidies, the ability to generate a profit without any subsidies is highly motivating. For some farmers, the money they earn from selling extra electricity is more than what they earn from selling their crops. If you combine raising crops or animals with the installation of solar panels, you could continue your family tradition while enjoying the benefits of modernization.
Making Use of Scrubby Land
Farmers are known for making the most out of what they have. With a growing population to feed, farmers have to be as efficient as possible. Some land is not well-suited for growing food. The soil might be depleted of nutrients after many years of intensive farming. In this case, planting crops there might not be profitable. While farmers could rotate the placement of their mobile poultry houses to such spots, putting solar panels on otherwise unproductive farmland could prove to be a bigger money maker. A plot of land that is too close to the road, difficult to access with a tractor or depleted of nutrition could be a good spot for solar panels. The solar panels could even be mounted above clover or other grasses that are simply mowed and used as extra feed for animals or as ground cover to protect against soil erosion.
Solar power is a helpful addition to all types of farms. It has the potential to provide a means of income for farmers who live in places with a lot of sunlight, and it can also decrease their energy expenses. Tax incentives make the use of solar panels a wise choice for most farmers.