German farmer trials solar roofs for orchard

It’s selecting season at Christian Nachtwey’s organic orchard in western Germany and people are loading their carts with ripe pink Elstar apples, ready to be shipped to European supermarkets.

But Nachtwey’s farm is likewise reaping a 2d harvest: Many of the apple trees develop under solar panels which have been generating bountiful strength during this 12 months’s unusually solar-rich summer, at the same time as providing the fruit under with a whole lot-needed shade.

“The concept is straightforward,” said Nachtwey, whose farm lies in Gelsdorf, an hour’s drive south of Cologne. “To shield the orchard, with out reducing the available growing surface and mainly keeping production. On top of that there’s the solar electricity being generated at the identical land.”

Large-scale solar installations on arable land have become increasingly famous in Europe and North America, as farmers are looking for to make the most in their land and establish a second source of revenue.That’s why Nachtwey is participating with researchers to test which apple sorts thrive beneath the sun cover, and which kinds of photovoltaic roofs are fine appropriate for the orchard. To compare the results, some timber are covered with a traditional netting commonly used to defend touchy plants from hail.

Juergen Zimmer, an professional with the rural services department of Rhineland-Palatinate kingdom, said the apples grown beneath the sun roofs had been barely much less sweet this yr than the ones underneath the hail nets. But hardly any of the solar-shaded apples were given damaged in the intense sunlight that hit the area on July 24 this year, while up to 18% of the exposed fruit suffered sunburn that day, he stated.

“We want at least to a few complete years to file all the climate conditions that would occur, and examine the yield and shade that the special styles of tree produce,” said Zimmer.

Researchers desire the tests will display that tree fruit vegetation thrive below sun panels. This may want to assist prevent renewable power manufacturing from competing for precious land with agriculture — a developing problem for those looking for to address climate exchange and rising meals prices.Nachtwey said he could use the sun strength generated on the farm to electricity his own centers and machines. But to start with, he plans to provide the strength to dozens of close by houses as an alternative.


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