How Solar Projects Contribute to Rich & Refreshed Soil
At the heart of our partnerships with farmers lies a profound commitment to leave farmland healthier than it was before it hosted a solar project. Under the right conditions, solar offers a non-invasive way for farmers to restore land quality while maintaining profitable, onsite agricultural operations.
In working to develop projects on farmland, implementing solar can accomplish a number of outcomes that produce successful growth for subsequent decades. Our solar projects offer time for soil to rest and restore nutrient balance for stronger crop yields in later years. Many of our current development projects utilize agrivoltaic practices to restore native plant species and/or provide dual use of the land. Our design team is thoughtful and effective in considering appropriate decommissioning and water conservation metrics before construction begins. We also ensure payments are competitive for our landowners to maintain reliable income streams while keeping their land in the family.
Why Install Solar on Farmland
Our projects meet the needs of American energy demand, the environment and our landowners. While farmland typically requires a period of rest for the natural replenishment for optimal crop yields, fallow land does not earn income. But incorporating solar arrays can rejuvenate the land while the farmer continues to earn revenue on the parcel.
We commonly plant native grasses or pollinator-friendly habitat underneath the panels to allow for the natural regeneration of the soil and restoration of the ecosystem. Should conditions allow, we can design projects to plant shade-tolerant crops under panels – such as hay – which allow for dual production of energy and agricultural products. The installation generally proves to be a great income diversifier, and it’s common for our projects to only operate on a fraction of a farmer’s total acreage. This means adjacent lands can continue to be farmed with row crops, livestock, vegetables, berries or other traditional farming ventures.
SunVest works directly with our landowners to identify and maintain underground drainage of the land. We understand that drain tile is a key consideration and our team has deep experience working with landowners to maintain and improve drainage conditions on the parcel and for neighbors.
A Closer Look at Yahara Solar
Our Yahara solar project covers 90 acres of farmland previously used for growing corn and soybeans in Dane County, Wisconsin. The 17 MW project generates enough electricity to power 3,000 homes and reduce GHG emissions in an amount equivalent to taking 3,800 cars off the road.
According to the Dane County Executive’s Office, transforming the land into energy production will cut water runoff volume by about 325,000 cubic feet or roughly 3.5 Olympic size swimming pools, reducing phosphorus runoff to area waterways by 370 pounds annually. The inclusion of native plants and grasses play a crucial role in water absorption and soil replenishment. These carefully selected native species effectively capture and absorb water, allowing it to permeate the soil, thereby promoting groundwater recharge and bolstering the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem.
Our Commitment to Decommissioning
We are often asked how farmland will be restored once a project has reached the end of its life. Whether that be for crops or pasture, it is our contractual obligation to restore any land by carefully removing all materials associated with the solar project. Apart from the panels and racking systems, we limit our use of raw materials such as concrete to facilitate a smoother transition back to farmland.
We take time in drawing up our decommissioning plans ahead of time to ensure our farmers have a tailored solution for the specific needs of their land. Every step of the process is designed to benefit the land and the farmer in the long run; our team is committed to all considerations before, during, and after our projects are operational.
Leverage Your Land with Solar
SunVest is one of the nation’s premier developers of ground-mount solar projects. Our qualified and experienced professionals have worked with 850+ customers to install 250,000+ solar panels that total over 100MW. This equals more than 125 million kWh of solar production every year, saving our customers over $8 million annually.
If you’re ready to turn your farmland into a solar array, contact SunVest today! We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to develop the right solar project for your land.