Growing specialty crops under solar panels shows promise – Ag Journal

Colorado State University Specialty Crops Program Coordinator Mark Uchanski was initially skeptical when Sandbox Solar approached him about researching the possibility of combining solar farming with high-value crops. “Quite frankly, I said, this is a little bit crazy, but let’s try it,” he recalls. Three years of research now demonstrates several ways the panels and plantings benefit each other.

Colorado continues to lead the nation in pioneering the concept of solar farming done in combination with the production of high-value specialty crops.

Standing in the middle of Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) South horticultural research farm east of Ft. Collins earlier this fall, CSU Specialty Crops Program Coordinator Mark Uchanski described what makes the university’s “agrivoltaic” project so revolutionary.

“The most exciting aspect is that the trial is fully replicated and that makes it scientifically sound. This is the only site I’m aware of that is evaluating food crops under multiple panel types,” Uchanski said.

He and other researchers in the program offered updates on a variety of projects during a fall field day held virtually this year at CSU’s Horticulture Field Research Center.

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