Farmers: Eggplants Grow 50% More Under Solar Panels

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  • After having published the agronomic results on viticulture and arboriculture, French agrivoltaic specialist Sun’Agri has now unveiled a report on a crop of eggplants grown in the Brinkhoff agrivoltaic greenhouse in Granges-sur-Lot, in the region of Lot-et-Garonne.

Commissioned in September 2020, the 2500 m² facility meets the needs of the operator to adapt production to ever greater climatic hazards. The increase in the average temperature in greenhouses (30 C in spring and 40C in summer) causes burns on flowers and acceleration of the development of new pests.

One year after commissioning, the first results showed higher yields under the panels compared to a reference area without modules. More than 800 kg of vegetables were harvested under the device compared to around 500 kg for the reference area. Furthermore, eggplants harvested under panels have a higher biomass, synonymous with better development of the plant.

Image credit: Sun’Agri

“We are pleased that this feedback from the Brinkhoff greenhouse confirms in the field the benefits of dynamic agrivoltaics for market gardening and greenhouse crops,” said Cécile Magherini, director of Sun’Agri. “Beyond being a tool for adaptation and resilience in the face of climate challenges for the farmer, intelligent management of our technology makes it possible to optimize agricultural production.”

The group has equipped the crops with three types of sensors for a detailed analysis of their condition and the consideration of meteorological factors. Micro-meteorological sensors placed at different heights of the plant measure air temperature, humidity, wind, and radiation.

Moreover, Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR ) sensors measure the active radiation for photosynthesis, making it possible to estimate the growth of the plant and its needs using the models.  “Plant sensors” make it possible to observe the behavior of the plant (water status, functioning, stress, organ temperature) and to optimize its well-being in real time.

“We grow various vegetables under these louvers without needing to bleach the greenhouses in the summer. With two years of hindsight, there is less pressure from pests such as aphids. The upcoming harvests will allow us to confirm and complete the first encouraging results of this tool,” stated Youp Brinkhoff, manager of the farm.

Since the greenhouse was commissioned, nine fruits and vegetables have been grown: tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, celery, fennel, spinach, lamb’s lettuce and green beans

Author: Gwénaëlle Deboutte

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.

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