Scientists to study climate-neutral fruit growing with Agri-PV system

BayWa r.e. has already implemented Agri-PV plants for berries in the Netherlands

German BayWa r.e. AG and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, together with other partners, have set up an Agri-PV research facility for apples and espalier fruit on the Nachtwey organic fruit farm in Gelsdorf (Rhineland-Palatinate). The experimental area covers about 9,100 square meters, and the solar system with an output of 258 kilowatts was installed on one third of the site.
During the five-year period, numerous factors will be researched on eight apple varieties to increase climate resilience in fruit growing and ensure safe and sustainable apple production with additional solar power generation. The scientists will first compare apple production at the same site under three different protection systems: Foil (non-rain permeable), Hail Protection (rain permeable), and Agri-PV with fixed translucent PV modules (non-rain permeable) and tracked PV modules (rain permeable when needed).
In addition, the extent to which light management through different module configurations has an impact on plant growth and agricultural yields will be tested. Furthermore, the system will be evaluated in terms of landscape aesthetics, economic efficiency, social compatibility as well as crop production parameters.
BayWa r.e. has already implemented Agri-PV plants for the cultivation of berries in the Netherlands. In Gelsdorf, the company is now »taking the step towards espalier fruit.« There, economic advantages for farmers are also to be demonstrated, such as lower and more calculable energy costs, lower investment costs in crop protection, and lower input and waste disposal costs.
The electricity generated by the solar system could be used upstream and downstream of apple production. On the one hand, it will be used to charge a battery-electric tractor, and on the other hand, it will supply the irrigation system.
Plant physiological monitoring is made possible with the »Next Farming« software management system, which comes from the group's parent company BayWa AG. This would allow farmers to control their entire operation as well as irrigation. Data monitoring and weather forecasts would provide continuous information on potential risks, enabling farmers to control cultivation.
BayWa r.e., Fraunhofer ISE, DLR Rheinpfalz, the agricultural machinery manufacturer Fendt, the green electricity supplier EWS Schönau and the organic fruit farm Nachtwey are involved. The project is funded by the Ministry of Environment, Energy, Food and Forestry of Rhineland-Palatinate (MUEEF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

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