Increasingly, solar companies are working with farmers to install solar panels on their land. Photovoltaic arrays are decidedly low-impact, meaning farmers can continue to raise livestock or grow crops on land covered in solar panels.
Many farmers are turning to solar to cut electricity costs. A lemon and avocado grower in California relies on two photovoltaic arrays to save the company half a million dollars a year. Smaller outfits are using solar panels locally to power electric fences, wells, irrigation systems and other equipment. This helps farmers save money on the cost of building power lines to bring electricity to remote parts of their farms. Nationally, around 8,000 farms generate solar power onsite.
Many are leasing their fields to solar developers in need of flat land clear of trees and other obstructions. This practice has become so popular that the Solar Energy Industries Association published a guide for landowners. Recently, former president Jimmy Carter got in on the act. He set up a community solar array on his Georgia peanut farm nearly 40 years after he installed solar panels at the White House.