Energy is one of the highest overhead costs in agriculture, more so for farmers with greenhouses. Traditional sources of power, such as fossil fuels, harm the environment affecting agriculture. Therefore, adopting solar energy for agriculture alleviates the costs, and it is good for the environment.
Also, reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable as the resource are declining. Solar energy comes from a never-ending resource. We are going to look at the applications of solar energy in agriculture. Let’s begin!
Solar Energy in Agriculture
Solar energy is applicable in various agricultural activities. Such activities include drying, cooling, and generating steam. Other applications of solar energy are pumping water for irrigation and many others. Let us look at these uses in detail.
Solar Energy-Powered Water Pumps
In most areas without access to electricity, PV water pumping systems are effective. Additionally, these systems provide water to remote pastures.
Usually, simple PV systems are designed to work when the sun is shining, providing water where needed. In these cases, solar storage batteries are unnecessary because farmers store the water in tanks or pump it directly to fields. However, larger systems can use tracking mounts, storage channels, and inverters.
Farmers who install a large-sized PV system do little maintenance because the power is reliable throughout. These systems are useful for irrigation, livestock water supply, pond aeration, and many others.
Water and Space Heating
Livestock and dairy operations have varying space and water heating demands. Modern-day farmers rear animals such as cattle and poultry in enclosed structures. Due to this, the needs for temperature and air quality control are vital for such buildings. To remove moisture, dust, and toxic odors, the farmer needs to replace air regularly.
Also, heating such large spaces requires a considerable amount of energy. Incorporating a well-designed solar energy system can heat the air even before it gets into the building. The system can also supply additional ventilation.
Apart from heating spaces, solar is applied in agriculture to heat water. A solar water heating system reduces the costs for the farm. Mostly, in dairy farms where energy costs are high by 40%.
Crop and Grain Drying
Did you know using the sun for drying grains is one of the oldest uses of solar energy in agriculture? The least expensive and most simple technology is where farmers spread fruit and grain in the sun to dry naturally. Sadly, elements such as wind, dust, and animals such as rodents can contaminate the crops.
Thanks to innovation, there are efficient solar dryers that can protect the produce. As a result, you prevent crop losses, and the crops dry evenly and much faster. Additionally, the crops have better quality than open field drying.
A solar dryer’s components are a shed or an enclosure, screened drying racks or trays, and a solar collector. It is glazed on the south of the shed, allowing sunlight to dry the crops. The air is then heated in the air collector, where it moves naturally or a fan forces it.
Currently, there are few solar grain dryers in the world. However, its application in agriculture helps farmers find an effective way to dry perishable goods.
Green House Heating
Another way farmers rely on solar energy in agriculture is in greenhouse heating. Typically, commercial greenhouses use sunlight for lighting and not for heating. Mostly, they depend on oil and gases for maintaining the required temperatures for plant growth.
Solar greenhouse heating systems provide heat and light. A solar greenhouse has a solar mass to collect and store the energy. Also, it contains insulation, thus retaining heat during cold days and nights.
Ideally, the structure maximally utilizes southern glazing exposure. The northern side is well insulated as it has little or no glazing. The glazing is more effective in reducing heat loss. Using a solar greenhouse is the right choice for small growers instead of relying on fossil fuels.
Remote Supply of Electricity
Photovoltaic systems generate electricity from sunlight. In places where there are no utility power lines, these systems can be quite useful. They are also much cheaper than using fossil fuels, and they require low maintenance.
Some farms are located in such areas, thus making solar panels an ideal option. Most of these farms have installed solar panels to provide lighting for the farm and home appliances. They are also useful in electric fencing, opening gates, automating feeding, and many other farm functions.
Cooling in agriculture is still a niche market though it continues to grow. PVs can also be used to refrigerate farm yields, which prevents them from going bad. Cooling is an energy-intensive process. However, in rural areas, solar refrigeration options provide an effective clean energy option. It enables production at low costs as well as reduces spoilage leading to higher yields for farmers.
Agriculture significantly suffers from unreliable power. Some farmers have faced severe losses as a result. Solar energy for agriculture is relatively cheaper than traditional sources of electricity.
Also, solar energy used for agricultural activities can be instrumental in solving drought-related issues. In areas with water scarcity, using solar energy, especially for pumping water or irrigation, can help mitigate the problem. Farmers can also experience technological advancement as the industry can become more receptive to innovation.
Solar also solves the issue of interrupted power supply. Solar power, coupled with an effective energy storage system, guarantees the farmer readily available electricity. The energy is undoubtedly one of the most important resources to be adopted in agriculture.
Lastly, farmers are the most affected group when it comes to global warming. Therefore, they need to be at the center of adopting sustainable energy growth. Solar energy offers limitless opportunities in farming.
Do you want to install solar energy in your farm? Get in touch with us today for an environmental-friendly solution to your power needs. We install reliable solar panels in Texas for homes and businesses.