Passive Solar Herb Drying Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $18,999.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Grant Recipient: El Milagro Herbs, Inc.
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Tomas Enos
El Milagro Herbs, Inc.

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: solar energy


    I am just 6 months into this project, progress is moving faster now on my goals and objectives.  Most of the work to date has been an overview of designs for solar dryers, ordering materials, designing spec sheets for drying of agricultural products, and finalizing the optimal design.  Construction of the dryer is now in progress as the off-season allows me more time to work on construction projects that are not in the field.  I expect the dryer to be ready for our first harvest of plants in March 2017.

    A year and a half into the project, two dryers were built and run through one season of herb drying.  Records have been kept of drying times of plants in season versus timing outside without solar drying.  Results are positive and quality of herb drying is excellent.  We have a a variety of herbs and plant parts from leaves, to roots and all seems to operate at excellent final product demands.

    We have been pleased after the first full year of drying in our solar designs and look forward to the second full year of production.  The results have been excellent and have exceeded our expectations.  Quality of the finished dried herb is very good and the drying time has extended our season and resulted in above average quality. 


    Project objectives:

    Most of our drying recording has been done with manual thermometers to date and have given us good base data.  After having to move our base of operation to a new location in 2017 during the drying season we are setting up new stages and hope to upgrade our monitoring with digital recorders and data recovery for detailed reporting.  We foresee that happening by the end of June 2018.

    Our objectives have been met to date with excellent drying time, good outcomes in quality and usable results from construction and modification of the solar design over the past year.

    We will feel much more comfortable with discussing results after 2 years of monitoring and project modifications, then we can expand our educational impact to a larger audience.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.