Ag and Solar is not a zero-sum game

Land management and conservation practices provide options for ag and solar integration.

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Pollinator planting in a solar energy project. | Photo by: Rob Davis

You don’t have to choose between agriculture and solar projects. You can have both. The key is to implement appropriate land management and conservation practices in a solar energy system. These practices are referred to as “dual use”, meaning the integration of a solar energy system into an agricultural system in a way that enhances a productive, multifunctional landscape. Four dual use practices that can be employed throughout a solar energy system are as follows:

  • Conservation cover
  • Agrivoltaics
  • Grazing and forage
  • Pollinator habitat

Three sessions during the Michigan Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference are devoted to learning about these practices. Each session will begin at 12:00 p.m. and last approximately 40 minutes, with time for questions and answers with the speaker. Information about each session is as follows.

  • March 7 - Land management and conservation practices provide options for ag and solar integration: Pollinator habitat in solar energy sites. Topics that will be discussed include the role of PA-116 in establishing pollinator habitat, understanding the Michigan Pollinator Habitat Planning Scorecard for Solar Sites, realistic expectations for pollinator habitat establishment, role of pollinator habitat in a cropping system, and reasons for establishing pollinator habitat.
  • March 8 - Land management and conservation practices provide options for ag and solar integration: Conservation cover in solar energy sites. Topics that will be discussed include goals of conservation cover, types of conservation cover, and benefits to agriculture.
  • March 10 - Land management and conservation practices provide options for ag and solar integration: Agrivoltaics – the future of farming? Topics that will be discussed include defining agrivoltaics, benefits of agrivoltaic systems, and implementing agrivoltaic systems in Michigan.

The Michigan Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference is the umbrella event offered by Michigan State University Extension during MSU’s Agriculture and Natural Resources month, which occurs each year during the month of March. This month-long program will encompass many aspects of the agricultural industry and offer a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. This year, over 60 sessions will be delivered via Zoom and available for attendees from any part of the world.

While there is no cost to participate, attendees must register to receive the necessary Zoom links. Registrants can attend as many sessions as they would like and are also able to jump around between tracks. RUP and CCA credits will be offered for several of the sessions. More information can be found at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/miagideas/  

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