But the landscape is different today; new opportunities abound. For example, our country is developing a growing appetite for a rapidly expanding, clean, low-cost source of electrical generation – photo-voltaic (PV) solar energy. So today many farmers find themselves with the opportunity to use land for food OR for producing electricity. And there’s the rub. Aggie Culture and Kyle Ahwatt are now beginning to view each other with suspicion because they both have their eye on that pretty little Corra Opland.
Aggie assumed she would always be his. But now this upstart, Kyle, has been talking with farmers. He’s come courtin’ for Corra, and that’s up-ending long-standing rural cultural traditions. You see, both Kyle and Aggie have the mistaken idea that it’s got to be all or nothing when it comes to Corra Opland.
“Those silly boys!” Corra chides. “Haven’t they heard about the latest thing? It’s called agrivoltaics, and it means just what it sounds like. Both agriculture and clean energy generation can happen on the same piece of little ol’ me!”
Corra invited Aggie and Kyle for a nice cuppa tea so she could explain the whole thing. “With agrivoltaics,” Corra began, “solar panels are situated on cropland so that farming that same land can jest keep right on a goin’. The panels might need to be spaced just so, angled differently, or even raised up so livestock can graze underneath. But a farmer can diversify her revenue stream with all sorts of potential benefits:
- Provide shade for pastured livestock
- Market high-value, shade-resistant crops
- Deep-rooted pollinator plantings build soil nutrients, reduce run-off and host beneficial insects
- Possibilities for irrigation reduction and an extended growing season
- Attract sustainability-minded customers
- Reduce energy costs
“So you see boys,” she continued, “it don’t have to be all of one or t’other. It’s a new way of thinking. We need both food AND clean energy so stop this fussin’. Let’s partner up and use the fancy technology we have today to build a clean, prosperous and healthy future. Because this here farmstead is the only one we’ll ever have. It’s where we’re all forever…Earthbound.”