Minnesota has claimed a lead position in the Midwest for the production of solar energy: in the last four years, the state’s solar energy increased more than 57-fold, making it 14th in the country for total solar power installed (849.4 MW). The state also boasts the highest number of solar jobs in a five-state area with 45% more than its closest competitor to the east, Wisconsin.
And as the cost of solar power systems continue to decrease, local farmers are considering their installation as a means to offset energy costs for farming operations. Mindsailing CEO Julie Mackenzie owns a 250-acre farm in central Minnesota, which is home to more than 35 Rambouillet sheep and several acres of corn, alfalfa and soybeans. Earlier this year, Julie and her husband attended a session on rural solar at the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota’s annual event. They followed up with James Darabi of Solar Farm to explore the possibility of bringing solar power to their farm. In the video below, James explains that project as well as how solar energy is shaping the legacy of Minnesota farms.
The solar farmer
There are reasons why renewables are connecting with innovative farmers.
- Land stewardship - farmers have a personal and professional interest in sustaining the environment.
- Energy harvest - solar, wind and hydropower are part of the agricultural landscape. And farmers are attuned to making efficient use of the resources around them.
- Growing demand - there is increasing demand for sustainable practices in farming.
- Legacy - family farms often think multi-generationally. Sustainable energy is built to support future generations.
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