Researchers at Tatura SmartFarm in Victoria are experimenting with the use of solar panels to protect fruit trees from extreme heat events. Solar panels are being installed above the pear orchard at Tatura SmartFarm. The protection they will provide may help avoid “sunburn”, where extreme heat discolours pear skins, making them harder to sell. According to Agriculture Victoria, sunburn browning in pears occurs at fruit surface temperatures greater than 47°C and necrosis sets in at 50°C.
In addition to (hopefully) protecting the pears, the solar panels will of course further earn their keep through the generation of electricity.
Solar power has also come into play at another recently officially opened SmartFarm facility – Ellinbank SmartFarm in Gippsland. Ellinbank has its sights set on becoming the becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral dairy farm. Part of the challenge in achieving this for a dairy farm are cow farts and belches. A single cow can reportedly produce up to 200kg of methane a year; a heat-trapping gas with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) many times that of carbon dioxide.
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