Researchers discover a more sustainable way of growing crops under solar panels

Researchers say they’ve identified a method for making agricultural cells — the process of growing crops underneath – More efficient. They discovered that red wavelengths were more effective in growing plants than the blue, while the latter is better for producing sun energy. Solar panels that allow only red wavelengths of light through could help farmers grow food more efficiently and generate energy.

Because they are shaded from direct sun, agrocells can reduce water requirements for crops. Michigan Technological University researchers Shading can reduce water consumption by up to 29% Magdi Abu Najm, associate professor, University of California, Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources By separating the light spectrum, crops can get the exact same amount of carbon dioxide without using as much water and still protect them from heat.

The researchers tested the idea by growing tomatoes in blue and red filters as an alternative to a control crop that was not covered. The yield of the mulched plots was only a third of that of the control, but the latter had twice the number of rotten tomatoes. Abu Najm said that the filters helped reduce heat stress, crop wastage, and other factors.

Majdi Abu Najm/UC Davis

To make this approach work in practice, however, manufacturers will need to develop transparent solar cells that capture blue light but allow red light through. Matteo Camporis (assistant professor at University of Padua in Italy, and lead author of a book). Semi-transparent carbon-based organic cells could be used to solve this problem. These cells can be used on surfaces like glass.

Other issues include the fact that different crops may be considered in the wavelength of selective agriculture energy systems. Effectively using resources may require some outside-the-box thinking. The research is encouraging, and it’s important to think outside the box to find more productive ways to use our resources.

“We won’t be able to feed 2 billion more people in 30 year by increasing water efficiency and going on as we are,” . “We need something transformative, not incremental. If we view the sun as a resource, then we can work in the shade to generate electricity and grow crops below. The kilowatt-hours become a byproduct that you can harvest.”

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