Combining Solar with Agriculture Series

  • Tue, March 05, 2024
  • Sat, June 15, 2024
  • 2 sessions
  • Tue, March 05, 2024, 7:00 PM 8:30 PM (EST)
  • Sat, June 15, 2024, 10:00 AM 12:00 PM (EDT)
  • Online via Zoom, and on location



In cooperation with

Combining Solar with Agriculture Series

Solar arrays to generate electricity require open space with good exposure to sunlight, and farmland is becoming increasingly attractive for installation of photovoltaic arrays. This raises concerns about a loss of farmland to meet our energy demands. But there is great potential for dual use of the land to install solar energy systems while continuing to use the land for agriculture, a practice that has come to be known as “agrivoltaics.”

In the virtual seminar we will explore opportunities for combining solar with agriculture, including grazing livestock under solar arrays, planting crops under and between rows of solar panels, and establishing plants to support pollinating insects or provide other conservation benefits. These agrivoltaics options can give farmers multiple income streams from the same parcel and preserve the farmland for generations to come.

We will place agrivoltaics in the context of our national transition to renewable sources of energy and address some of the concerns that have been raised. We will explore options for combing solar with agriculture in Northern Michigan including installing a system to meet a farms electricity needs, selling electricity to a utility, or leasing the land to a contractor that would sell electricity to the utility. We will also discuss best practices for site preparation and installation of solar energy systems and agricultural options once the solar energy systems are installed.

In June we will visit the solar array at Pellston Public Schools that provides electricity to the school and their electric buses. They are beginning to establish vegetable and pollinator plantings with the solar array. This will offer an opportunity to see first-hand what must be considered when establishing agrivoltaics at the scale of a homestead or small business.

***This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency***

under award number RMA23CPT0013619

Larry Dyer will teach the Agrivoltaics series and facilitate discussions in the Farming with Climate Change learning group. Dyer has a doctorate in Entomology from Michigan State University (MSU) and has worked in agricultural ecology, organic agriculture and community-based food systems for over 30 years. He is a Holistic Management® Certified Educator which includes an understanding of holistic planned grazing. He has also taken solar photovoltaics courses from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and has been the lead organizer of a solar group-buy effort in Petoskey, Michigan that resulted in 15 new solar installations in 2022. He has taught several dozen classes at North Central Michigan College and with other non-profit partners.

Refunds are unavailable for cancellations made within 48 hours of the class

North Central Michigan College • 1515 Howard Street, Petoskey, MI 49770

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