“Agrivoltaics” Adds Solar to Native American Farming Practice

For thousands of years, native Americans’ farming practices in desert conditions have called for planting under the shade of mesquite and other trees to shield crops from intense sun and mitigate parched ground.

Along come ground-mounted solar panels, the modern-day version of this practice to plant rows of crops underneath them.

“In the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson (AZ), where a canopy of elevated solar panels helps to protect rows of squash, tomatoes and onions. Even on a November afternoon, with the temperature climbing into the 80s, the air under the panels stays comfortably cool.”

Researchers at work at Biosphere 2 are reimagining and remaking agriculture in a warming world. They are involved in agrivoltaics (agriculture + photovoltaics), asking “How might the shade of a solar panel array overhead lead to cooler temperatures and less excessive sunlight for agricultural plants?” Biosphere 2 is the world’s largest controlled environment dedicated to understanding the impacts of climate change, and affiliated with the University of Arizona. READ MORE

Photo credit: Courtesy of College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona