Farm/Agricultural applications for photovoltaic power are widespread and continue to experience significant market growth. Market segment subcategories include:
· Water pumping for livestock watering (cattle/sheep dips)
· Central & local irrigation including surface & deep well
· Valving for surge protection to gated furrows
· Pond aeration
· Fence chargers
· Gate openers
· Automatic animal feeders
· Moisture sensing
· Irrigation controls
· Battery charging
EXAMPLE: The Canadian aquaculture industry has been installing PV modules and complete PV power systems to power automatic feeders, lights, radio communications plus an array of luxury and amenity power loads. Dozens of fish farm PV power systems are in operation.
EXAMPLE: A PV powered valve actuator is the power center for a semi automatic groundwater management system. The programmable solar electric controller and motor-unit automatically optimizes both the frequency and duration of water surges. The controller alternates the motorized flap valve and variably reduces surging to gated pipe and furrows, resulting in water savings of up to 30%. Energy and water savings from the reduced pumping helps pay for the system quickly.
EXAMPLE: PV powered Fence charge controllers. Traditionally, farmers who used electric fencing had to spend much time carrying batteries to charger sites. 6-volt PV fence charger/controllers sell for around $200(US), with large numbers shipped to South American, US and South Korean ag operations.
EXAMPLE: Photovoltaic powered moisture sensing devices for automatic irrigation.The systems power and control watering sites which were otherwise prohibitively expensive to connect to commercial power lines.
The system consists of a controller, a moisture sensor, custom, low power PV module and small battery pack. No control clocks or external power sourceare needed with a well-regulated solar electric system. The University of Arizona Grounds Department has reported a 75% savings over conventional time-clockwatering.
Systems are also installed along department of transportation road medians,golf courses, country clubs, parks and recreation sites.
copyright S.K. Lowe 1995-2007