US (AR): Grants back UA prof studying crop growth on solar farms

University of Arizona scientists are proving that electricity isn’t the only thing you can harvest down on the solar farm.

That’s the idea behind agrivoltaics, the science of raising crops or livestock on photovoltaic energy sites, a concept that has been around since the first solar farm began sprouting up in the 1980s and is practiced mainly in parts of Europe and Asia.

The concept has been slow to catch on in the U.S., but now University of Arizona scientists are working under millions of dollars in federal grants to optimize agrivoltaics on solar farms:

Last week, the UA announced a three-year, $4.7 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to support an agrivoltaics partnership including the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with the University of Maryland and three Arizona nonprofits — Tucson City of Gastronomy, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Local First Arizona. Co-principal investigators on the project are Greg Barron-Gafford, professor in the School of Geography, Development, and Environment, and Gary Nabhan, a research social scientist in the UArizona Southwest Center and the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Southwestern Borderlands Food and Water Security. The Arizona Partnership for Climate-Smart Food Crops, which was announced recently, will focus on promoting climate-smart food production practices and helping farmers reduce water consumption and carbon emissions.

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