Solar planning research could help better determine impacts to agriculture  

American Farmland Trust says more research is needed at the state and federal levels to understand the impact of solar development on farmland.

Samantha Levy is the organization’s conservation and climate policy manager.

“There’s a lot we don’t know, this is a much newer application of technology, solar development is scaling larger,” she shares.

American Farmland Trust’s recent smart solar recommendations for policymakers request more research to study how projects will impact local communities and the future of food production.

“To understand viability of different production systems with solar and also scalability of those arrays, investing in research to understand impacts on farmer renters who are outcompeted by developers impacts as solar scales larger,” she says.

Levy tells Brownfield modeling suggests more than 80 percent of expected future solar development could take place on farmland if policies remain as is.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for communities to be proactively thinking about this, especially rural communities,” she says.

She says communities can decide collectively where solar siting is preferred and create policies to incentivize those areas as well as disincentivize land they want to protect.

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