The demand for energy in the agricultural sector is increasing significantly with a growing population and high demand for food. While it is becoming challenging to depend on conventional energy sources entirely, farmers are looking for alternative energy sources to power their agricultural equipment like generators, pumps, motors, tillers, etc.
As we have been seeing, the agriculture sector has evolved into a promising industry and has been at the forefront of adopting the latest technologies and new reforms. Countries like India, the US, Australia, and China have already started to promote the use of solar power for agricultural applications.
While the wide adoption of solar power is still underway, there have been many advancements in recent times that have leveled up solar energy as the most promising technology for agricultural applications.
So, let’s today discuss the scope and benefits of solar power for agricultural applications, along with its impact on the sector.
The Scope of Solar Power for Agricultural Applications
Solar power is probably the best discovery of this century. Compared to other natural resources, this renewable energy is available in abundance and will never vanish. The availability of Solar power makes it an appealing option for different applications across different verticals like industries, residential homes, agriculture, manufacturing units, technology, etc.
While the agricultural sector has already been embracing solar energy, its wide adoption will be a game changer by adding values in many ways like reducing dependency on the grid, saving precious water resources, making ways for additional revenue streams, and saving power costs in the long run.
Although the discovery of Solar energy implementation in the agricultural sector is not new, the latest advancements in the sector have made it more appealing than ever.
Solar Power for Agricultural Applications
With the latest advancements and the government’s efforts to reduce dependency on other power sources, the cost of implementation of solar power setup has lowered significantly, allowing farmers to use it in different applications. Some of them include the following –
Solar Energy-Powered Water Pumps
PV water pumping systems are the best and most effective in areas with a scarcity of electricity. These also provide water to remote areas. Usually, these systems work during the sunlight and provide water where it is needed. In these cases, there is no need for solar storage batteries as farmers store water in the tank and pump it directly on the field.
However, larger PV systems can be used to track storage channels, mounts, and interverters. Farmers who opt for large-sized solar storage batteries have to do little maintenance because of power reliability. These systems can be used for livestock water supply, irrigation, and many other applications.
Water and Space Heating
Diary operations and livestock require space and water heating. Modern-day farmers accommodate their animals such as cattle and poultry in enclosed areas. With this, it has become necessary to control temperature and air quality in such areas. The farmers replace air regularly to ensure there is no moisture, dust and toxic odors.
At the same time, heating such a large area requires a good amount of energy, so relying on conventional power systems will end up in huge electricity bills. A large-scale and well-designed solar power system can provide enough energy for room heating, along with supplying additional ventilation.
Besides heating spaces, solar power can be used for heating water. A solar water heating system can reduce the power bill of a farmer by approx 40%.
Crop and Grain Drying
Sun drying crops and grains is one of the oldest techniques and applications of solar power in the agricultural sector. It is the least expensive and most straightforward technique where farmers spread grains in the sunlight to dry naturally. However, the biggest drawback of this technique is that there is a high risk of contamination due to dust, wind, and animals like rodents.
Today, there are effective solar dryers that not only dry the crops but also protect them. Therefore, it allows for a quick process and prevents crop loss. Additionally, the quality of the crops would be better than the open-field drying process.
A solar dryer has screened drying trays or racks, a shed, and a solar collector. The crops are put on the bottom of the shed, allowing it to get proper sunlight. The air collector then heats the air and the crops move naturally with the air flow.
However, solar grain dryers are far away from huge adoption today. But, in the future, it will be widely accepted by farmers worldwide.
Green House Heating
Although solar power has a variety of applications, farmers often rely on it for greenhouse heating. Commercial greenhouses don’t provide heating and depend on oil or gases to maintain the temperature for plant growth.
However, solar greenhouse heating systems not only provide light but also the required heat for plants. The system has a solar mass that collects and stores the energy. It also has insulation to retain energy for cold days and nights.
The structure of solar greenhouse heating systems uses southern glazing exposure, with the northern side having little to no glazing. This glazing helps in reducing heat loss. These solar greenhouse systems are more cost-effective than relying on fossil fuels.
Remote Supply of Electricity
Solar panels generate electricity through sunlight and it is quite useful for areas with less or little supply of power. These systems are much cheaper than fossil fuels and also require low maintenance.
Some farm fields are located in areas with no power lines, thus making solar panels the only way to produce energy. Most of these farm owners install solar panels to lighten their fields and homes. These systems can help in automating feeding, opening gates, electric fencing, and many other farm functions.
Cooling in the agriculture sector is still low low-approach process. Not many farmers can afford large cooling systems to refrigerate their crop yield and prevent them from going bad. As it is an energy-intensive process, it requires high power to operate. In rural areas, solar refrigeration provides clean energy options, allowing production at a much lower cost and reducing the spoilage of crops.
Tractors are an integral part of the agricultural sector and are essential in converting agriculture farming into a large-scale agro-industry. However, these tractors use natural oil to operate, which raises the cost of farming and also contributes significantly to air pollution. However, solar-powered tractors have become a viable choice for farmers. They can store solar power in batteries during the day light and use them in the night to operate the tractors.
Solar-powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS)
Farmers do need a reliable energy source to pump water for irrigation. But, in some rural areas, there is no proper power supply from the grid and fossil fuel is also expensive, which makes the process challenging for farmers.
For instance, the farmers of Camarines Sur, a province in the Philippines had to wait for the rain water to crop rice. But with SPIS, they can plant rice crops in all three cropping seasons without much cost.
Benefits of Solar Power for Agricultural Applications
While being the most cost-effective and environment-friendly option for power generation, solar power comes with plenty of benefits that make it more appealing for the thriving agricultural sector. Here are some of the top benefits of solar power for agricultural applications:
Reduced Energy Costs
The power cost is a significant expense for any business and the agriculture sector is no exception. While conventional power sources may end up in huge electricity bills, solar power can reduce both energy costs and save money. By using solar panels, farmers can generate clean energy from sunlight and reduce their dependency on the power grid. They can not only save money but also invest it in other aspects of their business.
Solar power is a great way to make agriculture more eco-friendly. Farmers who use solar energy can cut down their greenhouse gas emissions and use less fossil fuels. This makes agriculture more resilient and environmentally friendly, which is very important for our planet’s well-being.
Reliable Power Supply
Farmers can benefit from solar power as a dependable energy source. Solar panels can offer a steady and consistent energy supply in areas where the power grid is not available. This is essential for farmers who need power for their activities, such as watering systems, lights, and air circulation.
Improved Water Management
Solar power can also enhance water management in the agricultural sector. Farmers can use solar-powered irrigation systems to draw water from wells or from rivers and lakes. These systems can help farmers use water more efficiently and avoid wastage.
Increased Crop Yield
Farmers can boost their crop production with solar power. Solar panels can supply energy for lights and heaters, which can help prolong the growing period. This can lead to more production and higher-quality crops.
Governments around the world are running various initiatives to educate farmers about the probable benefits of using Solar power. These supports can be in the form of tax deductions, refunds, and other monetary rewards. By using these supports, farmers can reduce their costs and increase their profits.
Farmers can make a long-term investment by using solar power. Solar panels can last for 25-30 years, which means that farmers can reap the rewards of solar power for a long time. Moreover, the price of solar panels has dropped considerably in recent years, making solar power a cheaper option than using other conventional energy sources.
Today, the lack of reliable and affordable electricity is a major challenge in the agricultural sector. This has caused many farmers to incur huge losses and struggle to sustain their livelihoods. However, solar energy for agriculture can provide a viable alternative that is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly.
Solar energy can also help address the problem of water scarcity that affects many agricultural regions. Farmers can conserve water and improve their crop yields by using solar energy to power pumps and irrigation systems. Moreover, solar energy can enable farmers to adopt new technologies and innovations that can enhance their productivity and efficiency.
Another benefit of solar energy is that it ensures a consistent and uninterrupted power supply for farmers. By using solar panels and batteries, farmers can store excess energy and use it whenever they need it. Therefore, Solar energy is a vital resource for the agricultural sector.
Finally, solar energy can also help farmers to combat climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. As the most vulnerable group to the effects of global warming, farmers have a responsibility to adopt sustainable energy practices. So, that’s it in our blog on solar power for agricultural applications. Hope you enjoyed reading it.
FAQs About Solar Power Solution for Agriculture
Which solar panel is best for agriculture?
Monocrystalline panels, also popular as mono panels are effective for agriculture. These high-efficiency panels can be installed in small spaces, even on roofs with proper sunlight. Although they are the most effective, they are much more expensive than other solar panels.
What is a solar-powered robot for agriculture applications?
Solar-powered robots can help farmers ease their daily operations like cutting the excess grass putting seeding on the land, and spraying fertilizers using different sensors.
What is the cost of solar energy for agriculture?
The average cost of installing a solar energy system depends on various factors, such as location and installation area.
What are the challenges of solar energy in agriculture?
The biggest challenge in installing solar panels in an agricultural setting is the availability of space. Farmers need a large area for growing crops and accommodating livestock, which limits the space for installing solar panels.
How much does 1 acre of solar panels cost in India?
The average cost of installing a 1 MW solar power plant on 1 acre of land in India depends on various factors such as land rates, suitability of the power grid, proximity to the nearest power station, and cost of equipment like solar panels and inverters as well as solar BOS. The price ranges from 3.87 Crores to 7 Crores.