Capturing the sun's energy for light, heat, hot water, and electricity can be a convenient way to save money. Whether drying crops, heating buildings, or powering a water pump, using the sun can make the farm more efficient.
Putting the Sun to Work on the Farm
Solar energy can be used in agriculture in a number of ways, saving money, increasing self-reliance, and reducing pollution.
Solar Light and Heat
One of the simplest ways to use solar energy is to design or renovate buildings and barns to use natural daylight instead of electric lights. Dairy operations using “long day” lighting to increase production can save money with skylights and other sun- lighting options.
The sun’s heat can also be used to warm homes and livestock buildings. In confine- ment operations, a steady supply of fresh air is critical to maintaining animal health, but this can result in substantial heating bills. “Active” solar heating systems, which use heat boxes and fans, can warm the air, saving on fuel. “Passive”solar designs, where the building is designed to take advantage of the sun automatically, are often the most cost-effective approach.