Plummeting cranberry costs and the US’ ongoing commerce wars have America’s cranberry business eyeing a potential new savior: solar energy. Some cranberry farmers in Massachusetts, the nation’s second-largest grower after Wisconsin, are proposing to construct solar panels above the bogs they harvest every autumn.
It is a novel method to mixing renewable energy expertise with conventional farming that has been researched the world over however not tried earlier than on massive-scale, business crop cultivation, based on solar energy and agricultural business consultants. The fundamental concept is to construct solar arrays high sufficient off the bottom and in additional spaced-out clusters to permit for crops to be safely grown and harvested beneath.
US cranberry farmers hope to shoulder lean instances for his or her trade by gleaning additional income – within the type of lengthy-time period, land leases with solar builders – whereas nonetheless producing the identical high-quality berries they’ve for generations. An ongoing, nationwide research additionally suggests sure crops, specifical climates, can thrive underneath solar panels, although it is unclear at this level how cranberries will fare.
Michael Wainio, a fourth-era cranberry farmer, stated he has bought off elements of his land, began an aspect enterprise harvesting bogs for different growers, and launched a farm stand, deli, and bakery operation lately to make ends meet.
Wainio is working with developer NextSun Energy on an undertaking calling for roughly 27,000 solar panels over about 24 hectares of energetic bogs throughout three farms in Carver, close to Cape Cod. The undertaking would produce about 10 megawatts of power, or roughly sufficient to energy greater than 1600 houses, according to NextSun.
The cranberry trade has been dealing for years with the mixed results of crop surplus and weakening demand for one in every of its main merchandise, cranberry juice, mentioned Brian Wick, government director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Affiliation.
The worth of cranberries has plummeted 57% during the last decade, from roughly US$58 (NZ$90) a barrel in 2008 to US$25 in 2018, in line with US Department of Agriculture knowledge. However, Wick says the cost to supply the tart red berries in Massachusetts is sort of US$35 a barrel.