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Joining Solar Farms to Livestock Production

16 September 2014

UK - New guidelines have been published to show the best practice for coupling conventional agriculture and ground-mounted solar electricity generation.

The new guide, compiled in partnership with the National Farmers Union, the Solar Trade Association and a number of leading solar companies explains how solar farms can easily be combined with free-range chicken and poultry raising and the grazing of sheep.

The guidance makes clear that the addition of a solar array does not require a reduction in the number of animals – once the plant is built farmers can continue to graze sheep at normal stocking density.

Once the solar farm is in place, 95 per cent of a field is still accessible to vegetation growth and agricultural use.

Director of the BRE National Solar Centre Jonny Williams said: “As more farmers look for alternative ways to supplement their traditional income, it’s become vital that definitive advice is made available for the agri-community.

“Working in partnership with the solar industry and the NFU we have produced a valuable guide that sets out best practice for the integration of solar farms with conventional agriculture, ensuring that farmers get a year-round ‘solar harvest’ to supplement their regular business The guide complements the National Solar Centre’s existing publications on planning and biodiversity.”

Guy Smith, Vice President of the National Farmers Union said: “It is clear that renewable energy can support profitable farming, underpinning traditional agricultural production with additional returns that make businesses more resilient.

“This guidance document shows how solar farms can indeed be multifunctional, simultaneously meeting food and energy needs as well as enhancing biodiversity.

“Only a negligible land take is required to make a major contribution to Britain's clean energy needs, so the future looks bright for solar grazed lamb and free-range solar chicken.”

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said: “This latest planning guidance complements the Solar Trade Association’s efforts to ensure that the solar industry works in partnership, not in competition, with farming.

“This explains how to do free-range, home-grown solar at its best – a secure solution to Britain’s energy crisis that generates clean energy side-by-side with food production. That roast lamb Sunday lunch has just got a lot sunnier.”

This ‘Agricultural Good Practice Guidance for Solar Farms’ joins a suite of guidance on best practice for solar developments published by the BRE National Solar Centre.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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