Back to top

Assessing Agricultural Productivity and Informing Adoption of Dual-Use Solar Arrays on Massachusetts Farmland

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Environmental Conservation Dept.
Project Description: 

CEE will initially conduct a review of existing research regarding dual-use systems and consult with experts, including UMass agricultural extension staff, in order to prepare information and "best practices" for applicable farm activities in the state, including production of vegetables, fruit, hay, livestock, and horticulture.   We will develop research instruments that allow farmers to establish farm plans and production estimates based on shading analysis of the dual-use array, and to report on their actual annual production and farm plan revisions for each subsequent year.

Investigators will combine the information gathered from annual reporting by farmers with qualitative analyses to understand the relative success of the dual-use systems, including yield, irrigation, operations, pest and disease management, and farmer and developer satisfaction.  A research database of dual-use farming activities across array size and design, agricultural activity, soil condition, and growing seasons, will be established to document best management practices, and report on findings to local, state, and national stakeholders and the research community.

In addition, we will evaluate and characterize farmer interest and motivations concerning adoption of dual-use systems and renewable energy development in general.  We will conduct and report on surveys and interviews with farmers and solar developers at educational workshops, at meetings, and through one-on-one interactions at site visits to prospective dual-use farming locations.  We will also obtain additional information from agricultural organizations throughout the state to better understand other possible factors involved in farmer adoption or rejection of renewable energy technologies in general, and dual-use systems in particular.  We will analyze our findings in light of the existing research on technology adoption by farmers to advance scientific knowledge and inform the state incentive program.

Environmental Conservation topics: