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Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Program

Plant & Soil Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2020

Month Degree Awarded

February

Abstract

Agrivoltaic (AV) systems are dual-use land systems that consist of elevated solar panels with crops grown underneath. They offer a solution to the increasing demand for food production and clean renewable energy. The main concern regarding AV systems is the reduced availability of light to crops below the panels. Research to date shows that AV systems are quite productive with total energy and crop production exceeding the outputs of either solar farms or crop production alone. Research also shows that solar panels affect the microenvironment below the panels. The research on AV systems so far considers altering panel density to increase radiation to the crops by varying the distance between rows of panels in an AV solar array. This study examines the crop outputs for Swiss chard, kale, pepper, and broccoli in an AV system with different gap spacings of 2, 3, 4, or 5 feet (AV plots) between panel clusters within rows to determine how much spacing between solar panels is optimal for crop production by comparing these system yields to full sun crop production. This study also examines the effect of the AV system on crop nutrient levels, on soil water content, and crop leaf temperature below the panels. Ultimately, the biomass crop yields of AV plots are restricted significantly for Swiss chard, kale, or pepper compared against the full sun control plot yields but not for broccoli stem + leaf yields. The 4-ft or 5-ft gap distances between panels yield the highest crop biomass of the AV shaded plots. Nutrient levels tend to increase with more shade but the trend is only significant for Swiss chard nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, pepper potassium concentrations, and broccoli phosphorus concentrations. For soil water content it is found that panels have some effect on evapotranspiration and rainfall redistribution at the soil level. Leaf temperatures in the AV plots are lower than leaf temperatures in the control plots on sunny days but not on cloudy days.

First Advisor

Stephen Herbert

Included in

Agriculture Commons

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