Researchers Use Solar Panels to Boost Sustainability of Potato Crops
This fall, scientists from KU Leuven harvested the first potatoes from a trial field in Beernem, near Bruges. What’s special about these potatoes is that they were grown in a solar park, reports Akkerwijzer.
Even if the yield was 20% lower than from a standard field, the electricity savings more than compensated for the loss. According to Professor Bram van de Peol of the Department of Biosystems at the KU Leuven, who was cited by the report, solar panels above farmland, also known as agrivoltaics, are the future.
According to the report, American researchers calculated that solar panels placed above 1% of all agricultural land could supply the entire world with electricity. However, the greatest challenge is finding an optimum balance between energy and harvest. At the same time, the impact on agricultural activity and the environment must be kept as small as possible.
Belgian researchers say, at the moment, more insight is needed to tackle this topic efficiently. It is not the intention to sacrifice the harvest for energy, they added, as crops under solar panels must remain profitable. However, from the perspective of agricultural science, agrivoltaics is a promising solution for increasing both the land use efficiency and the share of renewable energy provided by the agricultural sector.