InSPIRE/low impact/agricultural/agricultural o m considerations
Low-Impact Development Strategies
Agricultural O&M Considerations
Maintaining agricultural activities can be slightly different in the co-location context. For agricultural crops, there can be differences in the approach used for planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. Hosting livestock can be different as rotational grazing might be utilized underneath the solar arrays, and the inclusion of livestock at solar arrays will require temporary fencing suitable for both solar installations and the specific livestock. Specific issues associated with irrigation needs and site access for maintenance are discussed below.
If irrigation is to be utilized for the agriculture activity, providing access to water could affect solar design configuration. In some cases, water might be hand-delivered. In other cases, drip or sprinkler irrigation could be utilized. Drip irrigation could involve piping along the ground or piping that follows the underside of the panels. Sprinkler irrigation could involve sprinklers in the ground, sprinklers attached to the underside of the panels, or sprinklers on top of the panels that wash panels and then the runoff feeds the crops. In all cases, it is important to avoid water contact with electrical or other sensitive components of the solar installation.
Different types of agricultural activities and crops will require different levels of maintenance, different types of equipment, and different frequencies of visitation. The expected access requirements for both workers and equipment should be considered in the design of the co-location system. If all crops will be hand-harvested and infrequent visits are expected, then designs could differ from those that include crops that would be harvested with mechanized equipment or that might require more frequent maintenance visits. Designs should safely accommodate the type of access that is needed. In some cases, this could lead to a need for higher panels, larger spaces in between rows, or spaces in between panels. Operators can also implement safety practices on-site. One example safety practice with a tracking array could be positioning the panels to be horizontal any time workers are performing maintenance underneath the arrays.