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Solar Energy Gaining Popularity with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers

We’ve talked a lot about city and suburban areas taking full advantage of solar energy and the benefits it can provide, but one particular area that we haven’t covered is the rural area. According to an article from Renewable Energy World, plenty of farmers in the United States are beginning to convert to solar energy in order to power their ranches. That being said, it has quickly become the most prominent way to produce on-farm renewable energy, as recorded by an On-Farm Energy Production Survey from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Not only does solar energy offer distributed generation, net metering and backup in the event that there is a utility grid outage, but the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers farmers an even greater incSolar Energy Gaining Popularity with U.S. Farmers and Ranchers - Longhorn Solarentive to hop on the solar bandwagon. REAP will provide grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses. “These can cover up to 25 percent of eligible projects, and are awarded on a competitive basis.”

So what are some of the ways that solar energy can be used in a rural setting? According to the article, “On farms and ranches, solar energy can be used for water pumping and irrigation, as well as building needs such as heating and cooling. The clean energy can heat greenhouses, dry crops, operate task lights and power feeders and sprayers. Stand-alone solar arrays can provide ventilation for livestock buildings and storage sheds, and even power batteries in seldom-used vehicles or farm equipment.”

One farm owner who has felt the benefits of solar energy first hand is Carlos Amaral of Amaral Ranches. Growing cabbage, corn and watermelon, Amaral said that he has never considered solar energy in the past but after running down the benefits, he decided that with the seasonal nature of his business in mind, the savings would be too hard to ignore. After installing a 605 kilowatt system, Amaral Ranches has managed to offset more than 70 percent of their farm’s growing and cold storage operations.

With all of the benefits in mind, farmers and ranchers across the U.S. can’t deny that solar energy has its advantages. Monetary advantages aside, we also believe that a huge selling point is the fact that solar energy aids in reducing your environmental footprint. After all, how can those who make a living by farming off the land around them really oppose to such a thing?