Starting or growing a farm on a budget means that farmers must carefully consider every purchase and expenditure to make sure it is a wise one while still meeting the daily needs of their crops and livestock. Farmers in this situation also know that time is critical and that taking steps to make daily farming tasks easier and less time-consuming will help them enjoy better success and sustained growth. If you are a farmer in this situation, the following ideas for using solar energy on your farm may be just what you need.
Using solar energy to meet the needs of pasture-based farming operations
Raising animals and poultry on pasture is an increasingly popular business model for farms today. By using rotational grazing and other related pasture management techniques, farmers can greatly reduce the amount of grain and supplements they must purchase for their animals while producing healthier meat, milk, poultry, and eggs for their customers. But feeding animals a pasture-based diet also provides many challenges to the farmer, who must figure out how to meet water and other needs in areas of the farm where traditional power is unavailable or cost-prohibitive. For a growing number of pasture-based farming operations, the use of solar energy may be the best way to accomplish this without incurring the cost of running water and power lines to each pasture or grazing area.
Using solar panels to power pumps from wells, cisterns, and ponds
Raising pastured beef and other meats or poultry requires a consistent source of fresh water. In fact, studies show that the average cow will drink between one and two gallons of water daily for each hundred pounds of their body weight, on average—and even more if the animal is lactating or the weather is very hot. Since a single cow raised for beef can tip the scales at several hundred or even a thousand pounds of body weight, it becomes easy to see that supplying a constant source of water for them to drink can quickly become a labor intensive task, especially for a farm operating with limited labor, money, and time.
In many cases, solar energy in the form of one or more freestanding or portable solar panels equipped with a battery bank is a cost- and time-efficient way to provide water where plumbing lines and traditional electrical power supplies are non-existent. For some farmers, drilling one or more wells in these outlying areas and installing a solar powered well pump is a convenient long term solution to provide water to remote areas of the farm.
If the cost of drilling one or more water wells is prohibitive, farmers can still take advantage of solar power as a convenient way to make sure their animals have access to the water they need. This can be done by using a portable solar panel unit to power a small, inexpensive water pump to move water from a pond, stream, or cistern to strategically located troughs where the animals can drink.
Using solar energy to pump water from portable tanks
If the pasture does not have access to a conveniently located pond, stream, or cistern, farmers can mount a large, inexpensive poly water tank on a small trailer, fill it with water from the farm's main water source as needed, and then pull it into the pasture where the animals are located. Once the tank is in position, it can be hooked to a small water pump powered by a portable solar panel to pump the water into a nearby water trough as needed. A simple float mechanism can be placed in the water trough to turn the water pump on when the water drops below a certain level and then shut if off when the trough is filled to eliminate wasted water while ensuring the animals always have a sufficient supply.
Solar panels can also help farmers provide cost effective ways to provide electrical fencing for rotational grazing, add light to chicken coops to improve egg production, and provide supplemental lighting and power for other farming needs. To find out more about how solar energy can help your farm grow and prosper, contact a reputable solar panel installation contractor in your area.