Applications of solar energy in agricultural sector
Solar energy can supply and or supplement many farm energy requirements.
CROP AND GRAIN DRYING
Using the sun to dry crops and grain is one of the oldest and mostly widely used applications of solar energy. The simplest and least expensive techniques is to allow crops to dry naturally in the field, or to spread grain and fruit out in the sun after harvesting.
SPACE AND WATER HEATING
Livestock and diary operations often have substantial air and water heating requirements. Modern poultry farms raise animals in enclosed buildings, where it is necessary to carefully control temperature and air quality to maximize the health and growth of the animals. These facilities need to replace the indoor air regularly to remove moisture, toxic gases odors, and dust. Heating this air, when necessary, requires large amount of energy. With proper planning and design solar air/space heaters can be incorporated into farm buildings to preheat incoming fresh air.
Another agricultural application of solar energy is greenhouse heating. Commercial greenhouse typically rely on the sun to supply their lighting needs, but are not designed to use the sun for heating. They rely on gas or oil heaters to maintain the temperatures necessary to grow plants in the colder months. Solar greenhouse, however are designed to utilize solar energy both for heating and lighting.
A solar greenhouse reduces the need for fossil fuels for heating. A gas or oil heater may serve as a back-up heater, or to increase carbon dioxide levels to induce higher plant growth. Passive solar greenhouses are often good choices for small growers, because they are a cost-efficient way for farmers to extend the growing season.
In colder climates or in areas with long periods of cloudy weather, solar heating may need to be supplemented with a gas or electric heating system to protect plants against extreme cold. Active solar greenhouses use supplemental energy to move solar heated air or water from storage or collection areas to other regions of the greenhouse.
SOLAR SPRAYER AND GRASS CUTTER
Solar technology can be used for spraying chemicals and pesticides by using solar sprayers. Solar sprayers do not require fuel hence cost is reduced for spraying. Easy in construction and very economical also. No air pollution and noise pollution too.
WATER PUMPING FOR IRRIGATION
Photovoltaic (PV) water pumping systems may be the most cost-effective water pumping option in locations where there is no existing power line. They are exceptionally well suited for grazing operations to supply water to remote pastures. Simple PV power systems run pumps directly when the sun is shining, so they work hardest in the hot summer months when they are needed most.
When properly sized and installed, PV water pumps are very reliable and require little maintenance. The size and cost of a PV water pumping system depends on the quality of solar energy available at the site, the pumping depth, the water demand, and system purchase and installation costs, PV systems are very cost-effective for remote livestock water supply, pond aeration and small irrigation systems.