Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness
Committee Member/Second Reader
A growing response to climate change among agricultural producers is to integrate renewable energy production in their portfolio of enterprises. Nonetheless, land use competition for agricultural production and solar energy production exists. To alleviate some of this competition, and possibly generate income for sheep grazers, photovoltaic (PV) system operators may save on operations and maintenance by grazing forages under solar panels rather than using mechanical or chemical means of vegetation management. “Solar grazing” operations have been shown to be economically feasible for PV system operators who own the land and pay for sheep grazing as a method of vegetation management, but no economic research has been done for a scenario in which the solar grazer owns land on which a PV operator leases for operating the PV system without worrying about land management. This study analyzed solar lambing and grazing operation budgets and synthesized them into one budget. The lambing and grazing budget was subsequently compared to two budgets for vegetation management that were generated in a similar manner. One used conventional mowing (currently most common option for PV systems) and a second relied on autonomous robot mowing (a less labor intensive and more environmentally friendly alternative). The results of this study show both a possible income for grazers and possible savings for PV system operators. Robotic mowing may also be a cost saving method over conventional mowing. It was shown to be a more profitable method for a landowner in comparison to lambing and grazing, but importantly, eliminates agricultural production. These results suggested that solar grazing may be an option for small farms interested in a grazing and lambing operations, as without the solar lease operations at the scale investigated are not economically feasible. Also more research on lease agreement options and robot mowing for solar operations is needed.
solar grazing, solar, grazing, agri-photovolatics
Louk, B. (2023). Solar Grazing as a Possible Vegetation Management Solution: A Budget Analysis. Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/aeabuht/26