Sheep grazing team to reduce solar mowing costs by more than 44%


From pv magazine USA

Just as Oberlin College students were leaving campus this past week to enjoy their summer recess, a new group was entering campus by farm truck. On May 24, a class of 70 ewes from the Old Slate Farm in Knox County, Ohio, showed up on campus to begin chomping away at weeds, grass and other edible vegetation at the college’s 2.3 MW solar field.

Some 70 Katahdin breed sheep were dropped off on campus at Oberlin last week. There they will graze through mid-June, stomping grass and weeding the solar field in a move aimed at alleviating the need for costly operations and maintenance, according to a report by the school.

Additional sheep drops this summer will bring the total number of grazers at Oberlin’s on-site solar facility to between 150 and 200 heads of sheep.

Dozens of sheep tend to the grass at Oberlin’s 2.3 MW solar field. (Photo: Erich Burnett, Oberlin Conservatory)

The sheep will be delivered to the college’s solar field three times per year over the spring, summer, and fall season. A form of agrivoltaics, where land is used for both agriculture and energy generation, the sheep’s handiwork will reduce Oberlin’s emissions from fossil fuel. It is also expected to reduce regular damage to equipment that results from mowing a rough terrain.

Oberlin signed an agreement with Old Slate Farm in April to begin deploying the sheep grazers before summer.

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