Greenhouse gases produced by various forms of nonrenewable energy have led to a rise in global temperatures.
This has caused various climatic issues, including melting ice at the poles, floods, and droughts.
More and more people are now turning to renewable energy alternatives. Solar energy is one of the most convenient and easily accessible forms of renewable energy.
One of the main areas where solar energy is proving a highly reliable source of energy is agriculture.
Let’s find out how solar systems power modern-day agriculture and help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
How solar can enhance Agriculture?
Solar systems work by converting light from the sun into electricity. For this to work, you will need a way to harvest the sun’s light. This is where the solar panels come in.
The solar panels are constructed from silicon photovoltaic cells. Inside each cell are two layers of silicon. One layer has a negative charge, while the other layer has a positive charge.
The result is an electric field between the two layers. Light adds energy to the cells and causes the electrons to come loose. The electric field between the silicon cells then causes the electrons to move, resulting in a current.
The electricity generated from solar panels is direct current DC. This, however, is not the electricity that powers homes or the type of electricity you would use to power your barn or animal shelters.
For that, you will need to convert this electricity to AC or alternating current. Fortunately, this is simple to do through a device known as an inverter.
The solar energy can then be distributed throughout the farm via the electrical panel. And since it is in AC, it will work the same way as the electricity coming from the power grid.
Let’s now see how solar systems can be used for different functions around the farm.
Powering electric fences
PV systems can be a great choice in more rural areas that do not have access to electricity.
Since solar energy is renewable, it will never run out and is a cost-effective way to power farms and ranches.
In ranches that raise animals for meat, one of the most important infrastructures is electric fences.
A solar panel collects sunlight and converts it into electricity. This direct current is then stored in a battery. The battery will send a current to an underground energizer.
The energizer will then send a pulse of electric current every one second along the wire fence. When an animal touches the fence, it completes the circuit between the fence and the ground and gets an electrical shock.
Electrical fences not only keep animals in specific locations and allows for rotational grazing, but they also help deter intruders, predators and would-be cattle rustlers.
Watering animals and irrigation
Solar systems can power water pumps to use for watering animals and for irrigation purposes.
A solar panel(s) can be used to provide electricity to water pumps. A water pump is essentially a motor that powers a bore or a surface pump.
Some pumps can work directly current from the solar panel and do not need to be connected to an inverter.
Water can then be transported to where it is required in the farm. For instance, it can be transported in to crop fields for irrigation or to water animals on the farm.
Solar water heaters do not turn the sun’s rays into electricity. Instead, they work by trapping the sun’s heat and energy.
A solar water heater consists of copper pipes arranged in a similar fashion to a coil. The two ends of the copper pipe are then connected to the storage tank.
The inlet side of the tube lets in cold water. Since radiation and heat is absorbed inside the water heater, the water quickly gets warm.
The heavy cold water pushes the warm and hot water out of the storage pipes and into the storage tank. The heated water can then be transported to any location on the farm where needed.
Farms also have high water heating demands. Whether it’s to clean farm equipment or in the case of dairy, stimulate the cows’ udders during milking, solar energy offers a reliable energy source.
Space heating and air regulation
In poultry production, egg production, pork, and dairy, the animals are often housed in large structures. High numbers of animals in close proximity can create a breeding ground for infections and disease.
To prevent such issues, buildings require constant air regulation to remove stale air.
Read more: solar powered fans for barns
Often farms will use axial or high volume low-speed fans to keep the air inside the barns moving and fresh.
Solar can be used to power the fans. Solar panels can be installed, which then create electricity. This electricity can be turned into alternating current at high voltage with the use of an inverter needed to power the fans.
Animals also need temperature regulation. During warm summer months, temperatures need to be brought down and brought back up in the cold winter months.
Solar systems can prove a reliable and highly effective energy source for farms that raise animals indoors.
Energy directly from the solar panels can be used to power heaters inside the barns during the cold season.
The goal of any greenhouse is to regulate the temperature inside and create a more favorable climate for plants to thrive.
However, greenhouses also require heating to help the plants survive during those cold winter months.
For the farmer, this means extending the growing season and allows the plants to continue growing even through the winter.
One way to warm the greenhouse is through the use of an electric greenhouse heater.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to power a greenhouse heater using a solar panel.
Solar panels convert sunlight to electricity, which is then run through an inverter. This will crank up the voltage to a level that is compatible with the greenhouse heater.
An alternative is to power the heater directly from batteries that have been charged with the solar panel.