How Urban Farms Can Harness the Sun’s Energy

March 3, 2021 by

modern urban farmersPhoto: Brigitte, Pixabay.

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When thinking about farming, most people have visions of a farmer out on a rural farm, maybe with a tractor. But these days, the farm has migrated into the city, with numerous urban farms popping up on small to large plots and rooftops scattered throughout an otherwise concrete jungle.

Urban farming might mean anything from an apartment balcony filled with small garden pots and planters to a larger farm or greenhouse perched up above a building’s rooftop.

Photo: wiselywoven, Pixabay

Urban farmers and gardeners can grow fresh produce sustainably with the help of solar technology. Companies like make it possible harness the sun’s energy without installing solar panels.

Solar energy isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact, the ancient Egyptians used the sun’s energy to heat their homes, storing heat in the walls. There are a few ways to make use of solar energy on urban farms and in city gardens:

Photo: Marcus Spiske, Pixabay

Solar Water Pumping
One of the most basic types of solar water pumps has a small photovoltaic (PV) array that pumps water into a tank. Some farms have larger and much more efficient solar-powered irrigation systems, especially when drip irrigation is attached to the tank itself.

Solar Ventilation
Circulating fresh cool air in and hot air out is very important for animal enclosures and greenhouses. Urban farmers can use solar power to automate and streamline these actions.

Solar ventilation employs solar radiation to preheat the ventilated air, making it more economical than photovoltaic or solar water heating systems. Depending on the complexity of the venting system, one may need to install an exhaust fan, which can also be powered by solar energy.

Photo: Limkin, Pixabay

Solar Livestock Fences & Chargers
A large urban farm may even have room for livestock, but the animals will need something sturdy and dependable to keep them inside and at the same time allow them to easily move about. That means your typical wood fence just won’t cut it, but an electric fence powered by the sun will fit the bill. A solar fence converts sunlight into energy that is stored in a battery to supply current to a grounded charger or energizer.

Solar Air Heating
A bit different from the typical methods for moderating indoor farm climates, solar air heating systems contain a solar collector that stores pre-heated air for greenhouses, animal enclosures, and other types of building structures–-especially helpful in cold weather conditions.

On your next visit to the local grocery store, you may be selecting produce grown on an urban farm using renewable solar energy. And considering that most fresh produce travels over 1,500 miles from an industrial farm to your plate, food grown on a solar-powered urban farm is good for the planet and the pocketbook.



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