- Vegetables: beans, greens (leafy), tomatoes
- Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, drought tolerance
- Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
The research being conducted at JSG will address two questions: how to build more profit margin and climate resilience for production farmers through agrivoltaic systems, and how to sustain secure food production in semi-arid ecosystems as climate change affects land management methods and water access.
The potential for this project to contribute to sustainability and resilience initiatives through informing the design of an agrivoltaics system is significant. The profession of agriculture and the food system at large increasingly rely on diversifying approaches to build resilience into our systems, such as those investigated in this study.
We expect novel results, which will expand and improve our basic understandings of ecosystem function, how novel ecosystems provide ecosystem services, and how we can use ecosystem ecology to improve environmental impacts of human activity. At its core, successful adaptation of agrivoltaic methods on a large scale will provide multiple streams of income for farmers, and reduce water usage in food production.
We will disseminate our findings through partnerships with farmers across the region and country, leveraging the network of coalitions and organizations with whom we partner and of whom we are members and leaders, including: National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT)’s AgriSolar Clearinghouse, National Young Farmers Coalition, National Farmers Union, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Mile High Farmers, Flatirons Farmers Coalition, and more.
Sprout City Farms has trained 143 interns, apprentices, and farm managers since our founding in 2010, who have since built their own farming and food system networks across the country. These ongoing relationships, plus our leadership in multiple coalitions, affirm that we are a reliable source of farming expertise and a trustworthy informant for developing agrivoltaic practices. Our research partners will distribute academic findings through peer-reviewed scientific publications and presentations at local, national, and international meetings.
Project objectives from proposal:
1) Demonstrate and quantify the potential agricultural production benefits resulting from an innovative, integrative agrivoltaic system design;
2) Characterize the most effective growing configurations across multiple variables, including: crop types and varieties, solar panel heights, irrigation amounts, and gradients of shade underneath solar panels;
3) Determine productivity (measured in plant growth and harvest yield) of specific crop and variety types across variations throughout the season, as compared to the full-sun control plot; and
4) Conduct outreach to local farmers and other potential agrivoltaic adopters on optimal configurations, economic tradeoffs, and agricultural activities that could realize revenue alongside enhanced crop production and significant water savings.