Report: farms should combine food production with clean energy



More and more farmers are combining their traditional farming techniques with renewable electricity generation by installing solar panels, according to a new guidance document demonstrating how farmers can double their output of food and clean power.

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The guidance comes from the BRE National Solar Centre, in partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Solar Trade Association and a number of solar companies. It aims to set out good practice when it comes to combining the two priorities.

Jonny Williams, from the BRE National Social Centre, commented, “Through working in partnerships, the solar industry and the National Farmers Union have produced a valuable guidance document that sets out best practice for the integration of solar farms with conventional agriculture.

“The guide complements the National Solar Centre’s existing publications on planning and biodiversity.”

The guide explains that when producing renewable energy, farmers do not have to reduce the numbers of their livestock. Once a solar plant is in place, 5% of a field is still accessible, meaning that sheep can continue to graze sheep at normal stocking density.

Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU, said, “It is clear that renewable energy can support profitable farming, underpinning traditional agricultural production with additional returns that make businesses more resilient.

“This guidance document shows how solar farms can indeed by multifunctional, simultaneously meeting food and energy needs as well as enhancing biodiversity. Only a negligible land take is required to make a major contribution to Britain’s clean energy needs, so the future looks bright for solar grazed lamb and free-range solar chicken.”

Photo: Katie Brady via Flickr

Further reading:

40% of UK farmers use renewable energy – up from 5% in 2010

Somerset dairy farm opens £1m water recovery plant

Consumer demand drives illegal deforestation – report

Sustainable agriculture can help tackle climate challenges

FAO: agricultural emissions have doubled in 50 years


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