Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Muirkirk Farm: Solar Technology

By Arielle Gerstein

The Muirkirk Research Farm is currently experimenting with solar energy to access groundwater. The project is using solar energy to produce electricity to extract groundwater for food production uses. The groundwater is being stored in a cistern reservoir above ground to be used for agricultural purposes. The end goal of the project is to assess if using solar power is a sustainable method of extracting groundwater. 

This is an important experiment for the future of agricultural production because the use of fossil fuels is not sustainable and leads to further damage to the environment. These methods are in line with UDC’s push toward sustainable agriculture through hydroponics and aquaponics. This new method will allow the farm to irrigate and fertigate crops more efficiently and affordably.  
Located next to the cistern, the solar panel tracks so different angles of sunlight will hit the panel and this sunlight can be turned into power for groundwater extraction. The cistern that collects the groundwater holds about 5,000 gallons and varying amounts of water are used depending on needs to be watered. A solar powered pump is connected to the well. Currently, the system is fed by gravity in terms of water delivery.

In the future, a pump will likely be installed for more intense watering and irrigation.

Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture, Che Axum, says “solar power allows the farm to operate a more sustainable, closed loop system of agriculture.”

For more information, contact William Hare, Associate Dean of Programs, CAUSES. 

1 comment:

  1. The UK currently has a spinning energy reserve of just 2% so solar power is the way forward.