American Solar Grazing Assoc. seeks shepherds, solar sites for study

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Sheep in a green field.

Graziers wanted! The American Solar Grazing Association is looking for beekeepers, shepherds and solar sites to participate in a study on the impacts of agrivoltaics.

The association announced May 4 that it’s collecting and analyzing data on the agricultural, economic and environmental impacts of co-locating agricultural enterprises like commercial beekeeping and sheep grazing on solar photovoltaic sites. Data will be collected during the 2022 and 2023 grazing seasons. A report and outreach will follow in 2023 and 2024.

“By working together on the same land, farmers and energy developers can realize benefits for all involved while preserving the agricultural character of the state’s rural communities,” said Lexie Hain, executive director of the American Solar Grazing Association, in a statement. “It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition; with this study, ASGA will be able to collect and analyze data on the economic and environmental impacts of co-locating ag and solar ventures on the same site.”

The solar grazing association is currently recruiting shepherds, beekeepers and solar sites and will continue enrollment until fall 2021. 

The study sites can have just beekeeping, just solar grazing, or a combination of both. Qualifying study sites should be solar photovoltaic sites in operation by fall 2021. These sites must be in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey or Massachusetts. 

ASGA is also looking for several control sites. These would be conventional, landscaper-managed, mowed sites. 

Data collection and analysis will focus on solar planting mixes, economics of co-location, solar equipment risk and soil health from 30 existing, ground-mounted solar sites throughout the northeast, primarily in New York State and neighboring states.

The study will address questions about the quality and profitability of farm products from solar sites, trends in soil health on agriculturally managed solar sites and the benefits to farmers of working with the solar industry.

The project is being funded by a $198,000 research grant from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority through its Environmental Research Program. The current project builds on a 2018 pilot study by Cornell University. Additional project partners on the two-year study include the New England Division of American Farmland Trust and Juniper Economic Consulting.

To participate in the study or learn more about it, click this link.

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