Solar panels on a dairy farm
Using renewable energy sources on farms comes with numerous benefits. As most people are aware, solar energy has little to no negative effects on the environment.
Since solar panels use energy from the sun’s rays to generate electricity, farmers can rely on this means of power instead of paying a hefty monthly bill to the electric company; so the fiscal advantage is clear.
When farm owners incorporate the use of various techniques for surveillance of their livestock and solar machinery the savings can increase even more.
Installing solar panels
The location is something to consider when it comes to setting up a solar panel system. Although some farmers prefer a ground mounted solar PV, in some cases the PV can be set up on top of a barn roof.
To place a PV on a building a few stipulations must be met: the structure must be strong enough to support its weight, wide enough to handle its size, and tall enough that the photons won’t be blocked by other hindrances like trees or other buildings.
Placing the solar panels on the ground is sometimes the most feasible option. Tracker systems are technologically designed to have the panels follow the rays of the sun throughout the day as it moves from east to west.
The fixed systems are not as advanced, as they remain angled in 30-degree southern facing position at all times. As to be expected, the sun-tracking PVs will create the most energy, but the amount of electricity they produce can be more than what the farmer may need, plus they are generally more expensive.
Due to fixed systems being more affordable, Seth Gardner decided to forego the sun tracking models. Catamount Solar was the company responsible for the installation on McKnight Farm.
The entire project took less than two months to build, but it was almost a year from when Gardner decided that solar energy was the way to go. He waited until his application was accepted by the Public Service Board and was issued a certificate of public interest.
He was granted a loan of two hundred fifty-five thousand dollars from the Vermont Agriculture Credit Corporation, which handles loans for Vermont farmers. The state of Vermont refunded Gardner for thirty-six thousand dollars worth of his solar investment costs.
Even with the assistance he received from the government, and the substantial tax credit, it will likely take six years before the PV will have paid for itself.
Electricity generation from solar panels
Electric needs on cattle farms can be extensive. Refrigeration, irrigation, and ventilation are just a few of the most obvious costs associated with powering a farm.
Seth Gardner of McKnight Farm recognized the recurring expense on his organic farm where he uses cows for dairy and meat products. Gardner has installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system to take care of all the farm’s electrical demands.
PV works by converting energy from the sun into electricity.Vermont has over 2,000 solar panel systems, making it the most common renewable energy system in the state.
Solar panels do not take up as much room as one might think. If proper planning is employed, farmers can still put the area between the panels to good use.
Taking height placement into account, farmers should make sure their panels won’t be disturbed or damaged by animals and crops. Cattle monitoring can instantly warn farmers if their cows are getting too close or tampering with their solar equipment.
Farmers using cattle surveying techniques can be confident that their cows are getting the attention they need. If their dairy animals are grazing in between the solar panels, it can be difficult for farmers to evaluate their animals with purely human surveillance.
Getting close to electric units is not without risk, so being able to get a bird’s eye view is not only monetarily beneficial, it is a safe way to observe how the farm animals are getting along. UAV pilots can navigate in between the PV equipment to get a clear view without endangering themselves.
With scientists and agriculturists continuously searching for new ways to support the environment and improve farming conditions, US citizens can be on the lookout for unmanned aerial vehicles and renewable energy being used together to achieve success.