There is a lot of solar being sited in Wisconsin with some projects reaching a pretty massive scale. The traditional narrative has been hello solar, goodbye agriculture, however a new crop of farmers, researchers, and solar companies are thinking differently: how can we continue to farm this land between, under, and around solar panels? Steffen Mirsky from Extension’s Cutting Edge Podcast joins us as we talk with Sarah Moser, director of agrivoltaics with Savion, a utility-scale solar developer, and Eric Romich, Extension Field Specialist in Energy Development with the Ohio State University about their current and future projects investigating how to grow and mechanically harvest hay under solar in Ohio.
Photo taken by Tobi Kellner and used under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Will Fulwider 0:01
This is Field Notes from UW Madison Extension. And I’m Will Fulwider. We bring farmers experts and agronomist to the table to talk about research based approaches to the issues facing agriculture in Wisconsin. Today we’re talking about agrivoltaics a fancy word for the colocation of solar panels and agriculture. There’s a lot of solar being sited in Wisconsin, and as a result, there’s agriculture leaving the landscape. But there’s also potential to integrate both the energy production and the agricultural activities. So you could call it a cutting edge topic. And so we’ve got a cutting edge person to help us out with it today, Steffen.
Steffen Mirsky 0:35
Hey Will, I’m here. And that’s what I do. I help run a podcast called The cutting edge that tackles topics just like this, and highlights emerging crops like hazelnuts and hemp, and a bunch of others for Wisconsin.
Will Fulwider 0:48
Shout out to listen to their podcast the cutting edge, which is located right next door to us on the UW Extension crops and soils page or short internet search away. On this episode, we’ll be hearing about the latest practices and research on integrating agriculture and solar. We’ll be talking with Sarah Moser from Savion energy and Eric Romich from the Ohio State University about growing hay and row crops under the panels. Let’s dive right in.
Sarah Moser 1:21
Hi, everyone, I’m Sarah Moser from Savion. I’m the director of farming operations and agrivoltaics. I’m actually a farmer as well, in northwest Ohio. We farm about 1500 acres I farm with my dad and my brother and my husband. So family farm, and corn, wheat and soybeans, we actually added livestock to the operation. So so we’re doing it all right now, I do live in a wind farm. And we have had some people sign us up for solar as well. So we’re familiar with that on the farming side of the house. And then, of course, I’m doing development and working with Savion to bring the two together. So that’s me.
Will Fulwider 2:01
Excellent. Eric, who are you?
Eric Romich 2:05
Good afternoon, Will, and thanks for having me. My name is Eric Romich. I’m Ohio State University Extension and field specialist for energy education. So I’ve been with with extension since 2008. And, you know, I started as a as a county based Extension educator, and really, in that county role kind of had my first experience with renewable energy development and working with, you know, at the time, what we thought was a massive project, right, an 85 acre solar field and the county and so that was kind of my first exposure to renewable energy development, and, you know, taking a look at kind of the the good, bad and otherwise, and how those projects, impact communities in various ways. And so since that, that time, I guess in 08 and 2012, I moved into the statewide position where I just focus solely on energy education now and I get pulled into really everything from oil and gas development and in the eastern part of the state to wind up in the northwest and you know, utility scale solar development all across the state. Over the years, we’ve done a lot of financial modeling for farmers that were interested in putting solar in on their farm to power their operations behind the meter. So you know, really get kind of pulled into a lot of different aspects within energy. And, and certainly since I’d say 2016, utility scale solar development has really been the the topic that’s drawing the most attention right now here in Ohio.
Will Fulwider 3:43
Sounds like you’ve got a lot of projects going on. But we want today, we want to focus on one specific project. And that is this between the rows project that you have as a partnership between Savion Energy and Ohio State. Eric, can you speak a little bit more about the research that’s currently underway with the with this project between the rows?
Eric Romich 4:00
When we look at solar, the one weaknesses, as we’ve seen these projects scale up is that they have a large footprint, right? It takes a lot of horizontal surface area to generate the power. And so you know, we were trying to explore what types of multi lands use options exist within the parameters of two key points. So is it economical because we want something that the industry will adopt, right? So this gets commercialized and put into practice? And is it scalable? Can this be a solution that can scale up to 1000s and 1000s of acres? And so I try and really highlight that point that we’re not discounting other agrivoltaic practices, but we were really focused on what can we scale up and what can be economical. So our team at OSU was really interested in forage production. And, you know, obviously, we have some forage specialists on our team. But as we were kind of putting together the parameters of a research project, obviously we needed a partner for a site and that’s when we kind of partnered was Sarah and Savion. And, you know, through the, between the rows partnership with Savion, we were able to identify a research site that allowed us to quickly just answer a couple of questions. And so we really wanted to initially look at this and say, you know, what are the best practices for establishment? Does it grow? And what’s the quality? So if you could imagine, at this research site, we have, essentially three alleys. So an alley being you know, that space in between two solar arrays, right, so we had a cool season hay mix in the first alley, alfalfa and the second alley, a mixture of I guess we’ll just say cover crops at this point in the third alley, and then we had our control zone that was outside of the solar arrays. And then with each of those seed varieties, we had varying seeding rates. So we did 75% of the recommended rate, 100% of the recommended rate, and 125% of the recommended seeding rate. And then the final kind of cross section, there would be as mentioned, this is a fixed tilt system. So there’s portions of these alleys that experience pretty intense shade, whereas the other half or I should say, two thirds experience, you know, full sunlight exposure, so kind of monitoring the differences in shade versus sun as well as something that we were really interested in. And so, you know, we’re sitting here now we’ve we’ve completed kind of two growing seasons. So we had our establishment year and then, you know, in year two, we really got some really good data in terms of the forage quality and how the the crops were producing.
Will Fulwider 6:40
Great, we’ll get back to what those kinds of results are saying here in a second. Sarah, anything to add to that? I know that you’re kind of you’re doing the haying side of things, but you’re also really interested in growing crops, corn and beans, under these solar panels, I’m curious where things stand with that.
Sarah Moser 6:56
Yeah, for sure. So first, like as a farmer, you know, you look at the sites and you see it, and you see ground that you can use, right. And so every landowner that I talked to is like, hey, have you thought about growing soybeans in there or pumpkins, or, I mean, you’ve heard it all right, all these different specialty crops you see him doing out in Colorado, you see him doing it, places, where, where they’re trying different things. And, you know, Eric’s team, and Eric made a great point that, that having something that will be scalable, when you’re talking about 1200 acres, we have a project that 6000 acres, I mean, so so when you have that much space, it’s that’s that’s a lot of tomatoes, you know, that’s a lot of cucumbers, if you go out and you do produce, and so it didn’t even you know, you see grazing everywhere, it’s a lot of sheep. So Eric’s solution and Ohio State solution of forage crop and this hay and this alfalfa really made sense and resonated with me, because one, we got to feed all of those sheep, if we do start a market for it, when we do the grazing on solar sites, but then, you know, my, my heart definitely lies with the soybean, and, you know, in corn, so, you know, Eric mentioned, the site is on our farm, and we maybe have planted an alleyway in soybeans, I’ve actually got corn growing in one right now. So so I’m testing a little bit outside the Ohio State project is done, because we’ve kind of moved up and move to a different or a bigger project. So I can kind of play with it a little bit, the way that, you know, I’m able to and, and I won’t lie, took my my 20 foot drill down through there. And you know, we got stuff growing. So we knew it grows, and we’re and we’re working on it. But you know, it’s interesting, and it’s wonderful to have Ohio State involved and you know, that that you guys are doing this with, with your extension agencies, because as a farmer, we know, it’ll grow. But we need that research. And we need those numbers in that data and everything to go with it, to prove the science behind it and say, yeah, we know it’ll grow, but we can prove it will grow. And we see the numbers and the crude proteins and what’s coming out of it. So, so that’s kind of help establish the story to the people that need to make the investment to go bigger. Right.
Steffen Mirsky 9:06
So I’m wondering, Sarah, so what kind of considerations were involved? You know, when thinking about partnering with Ohio State University, in designing the solar field for agrivoltaics. You know, what, what went into that decision making process of partnering with them?
Sarah Moser 9:25
I would say a lot of it is like Eric mentioned the economics. So you know, what’s it going to cost us as a developer to make these sites accessible to farmers, so your insurance, your liability of having people on site and operating, but then the engineering and the design that goes behind it, you know, if you’re raising the panels, it costs more in steel. If you’re burying cable, it takes more time with your construction methods. So, you know, we’re really just looking to have the solution makes sense. to both the farmer and the industry,
Eric Romich 10:03
Yeah, I can kind of add to that a little bit. I’ve started to kind of use the phrase solar ready, or I’m sorry, hay-ready solar site, like, you know, ultimately, like, this isn’t something that we’re suggesting, hey, this is just a drop in solution that just move along, do things as normal business as usual. And all if you want to grow forages, just go do that. Right? It’s, it’s not how this is gonna work. And so it’s it’s kind of this chicken, chicken or the egg scenario, right? Where do we start? And that’s where I think that we have to have a good handle on establishment, quality, yields so that we can do some, you know, ultimately, we’re not there yet. But ultimately do some some sound economic modeling to say, yeah, here’s, here’s, here’s the potential. From that point, then, you know, developers will need to have these considerations and say, well, what do we need to do to make a site that a farmers wouldn’t come in and manage for us on a commercial scale? And with that in mind, say, hay-ready solar site, I mean, I’m thinking of things such as alleyways, like, you know, Sarah mentioned, there’s, you know, 6000 acre site in Ohio. So you don’t want to do 6000 acres of forages and have your alley widths as such that you’re doing a full cut in the way down and a partial coming back over 6000 acres. Right. So those types of considerations, as you think about, you know, what does the safe operation of equipment look like at a commercial scale? And how can we design these systems, so that it has that in mind, right, that’s not to say that there might not be some drop in solution potential where you could, hey, you know, this is a good fit, it can it can be done here. But, you know, I think moving forward, we want to get to a point where we can kind of fine tune this and say, Look, here the turn radiuses that are necessary here are recommended alley widths are multipliers that you might look at for standard equipment and different alley situations. And, you know, at the end of the day, it’s going to require the the ag sector and the solar sector start talking a little bit more
Will Fulwider 12:01
Looking at how do we optimize hay production in utility solar sites has could have huge implications for a lot of these solar sites in Wisconsin. And, you know, I want to I want to check in with you Sarah, and see how your beans are doing right now. But I do want to see kind of what are the results that have come out of this research. So far,
Eric Romich 12:18
You know in general like if as we look at the the alfalfa, you know, focusing in on say, crude protein, most of our samples were grading out, as I should say, all of them were above premium, and most of them just over half were above prime levels, when you think about percentage of crude protein. So we were kind of in a range of 19 to 26%. Similar results, when you look at alfalfa by relative feed quality, most everything was above premium, kind of in a range of 146 to 156. So, and those were those are were year two readings, so that’s kind of excluding the establishment year as I kind of share those ranges and very similar results when we looked at the the cool season hay mix, so the one thing I will say is, and again, these are all kind of lessons learned as we as we move through this and think about what it looks like on a commercial scale. A couple of the the obstacles that we did face with with our establishment year we really had a lot of foxtail that was kind of crowding out our cool season mix, we’re obviously we were able to spray the alfalfa and kind of get that back on track but we really just had to kind of mow down the the hay and kind of cross our fingers going into year to kind of hoping that would come in and it did really kind of bounce back good and year two, I think is all but one of our samples came in above premium and about half of them came in above prime so kind of think of a range like 18 to 26%. And then with your relative feed quality kind of that same that 146 to 154 was kind of the range that of results that we saw with with again, most of those grading out above premium.
Will Fulwider 14:23
How did the biomass production compare between the shade the ones under the solar panels and out in the sun?
Eric Romich 14:30
In terms of like the actual results to say like here’s what the yields were, I don’t necessarily have that data in front of me. You know, visually the stuff that was the forges that were in the full shade zone had kind of that deeper green more lush kind of appeal to him and it appeared to be a little bit a little bit thicker. Again, I don’t have like the yield results in front of me but our initial thought was that yeah, that would really not perform well. And kind of as we looked, I was like, well, there’s actually, you know, possibly some advantages to that. And so as you think about the difference in that, that was a shade zone that was kind of consistent. Your utility scale projects have single axis trackers. So it’s going to be a little bit more evenly dispersed, right, and not as intense and kind of focused into one area. So that might actually be just something that could benefit. And that’s something that we’re going to really kind of zeroing in on our phase two research is, how does, how does the shade being more evenly dispersed with a single axis tracker system impact this, but the last thing I’d say in terms of shade versus full sun, is it also there seem to be less weed pressure in that area as well?
Will Fulwider 15:53
Oh, interesting. Sarah, how are your beans looking?
Sarah Moser 15:56
I was good news all around. Right. And that’s what I’m hearing now is like solar super power is shade. Shade is protecting the plants. You know, with the soybeans, we’re seeing, like a broader leaf development, right? Because it’s just like, it’s not the sun’s not beating down on it. Right. And like baking them out. So shades been a good thing.
Steffen Mirsky 16:18
So it sounds like yeah, good. Like you said, good news all around. But I’m sure there have been some challenges that you faced along the way. Can you just kind of speak to what some of those have been some of the major challenges?
Sarah Moser 16:30
Oh, boy, well, I will say some of my biggest critics are farmers. So you know, of course, every farmers, the best farmer in the world, and they can tell you how to do it better, or that you can’t do it like they can, right? So I’ve had people tell me, you know, oh, hay won’t grow here, or that won’t work. At first, they didn’t accept hybrids, right. They didn’t accept hybrid seed back in the day. And we had to plant you know, hybrid seed in with our kids and the kids would grow it in the plot in the backyard. And when it outgrew daddy’s corn, he realized he better start growing hybrids, right. So I think it’s just that attitude of change, where, you know, it will require a different type of farming, we’ve been used to clearing out fence rows, you know, for the last 100 years and making the biggest possible field we can and giant equipment, you know, we all want to run these huge planters and the these bigger corn heads or bigger, you know, draper heads on on our equipment, and it’s like, no, maybe we need to go back to a little bit smaller equipment, maybe some autonomous equipment, you know, and I think that that’s going to improve soil compaction, that’s going to help us with a lot of different things. But that farmer mindset might be one of the bigger challenges I see which I said, I work with my dad. So you know, you get that as a farmer all the time. As far as the industry goes, you know, I gotta say Savion has been wonderful. So they’ve been very progressive and forward thinking with agrivoltaics. And they’ve allowed me a lot of rein to try things. So I appreciate that. But like, farmers get things done, we figure out solutions. And so, though there are challenges, I feel like we’ve been able to overcome a lot of those, and especially with the help of Ohio State and and the universities to provide that academic support on what we’re trying to do.
Will Fulwider 18:26
You mentioned a little bit about the big equipment, equipment, and you know, maybe we need to go smaller. And I’m just curious, are you have you been having to use specialized equipment of any sort? And for the hay, are you are you dry as you’re trying to do dry hay, or are you bagging it?
Sarah Moser 18:44
That’s a great question. So right now we’re using the equipment that we have. And you’ll find, you know, a lot of farmers still have that conservation planter in the barn somewhere, you know, we’re doing our filter strips with something smaller, we’re working, you know, the smaller fields with something still so you can find it. You know, but as we’re moving into a field of growing agrivoltaics, you know, we’re hearing Kubota is a partner on on our grant that, that Eric will talk about later, you know, and they’re looking at smaller equipment, equipment that will work between the rows, because when you get up to 6000 acres, you’re not going to want to run a 20 foot drill through there, right? It’s a little tight. You want to have something that’s specialized for it, so and then the autonomous equipment makes so much sense. You know, in all of our kids, they love video games and robots, right? So like, getting them excited about this next generation of farming that’s happening is playing into this precision ag equipment and some of these solutions we’re finding so I think starting out it will be a mix of both. You know, we’ve got I’ve got a haybine that goes down through the rows, right and it’s just just a regular thing. You got parked you know, here we are on the farm, so it’ll be transition time, I think we’re all learning. And I think that it will work a little bit both ways starting out.
Will Fulwider 20:06
Yeah, just a follow up on that for that for the hay, is it something that you’re trying to dry out underneath the panels? Or is it you know, you’re bagging it at higher moisture,
Sarah Moser 20:15
Right. So we’re actually we let it dry on the site on the between the rows site, we let it dry, we raked it, you know, we did all of that it actually got rained on once, and so we had to rake it up and get it ready again. But we’ve we’ve talked about the solution of wet wrapping, because if there’s a case where you know, with your single axis tracker, you know, you make hay when the sun shines. And that’s when I need my resource for my solar panels, right. So I’m not going to want to turn them and have a make the row wider during the day. So the solution would be of course, go ahead and cut and wet wrap it in the evening, late evening, when the sun isn’t something you’re not going to lose the resource. So that’s where, again, working with the solar company, and finding solutions there. I was recently in, in Israel, and they’re looking at a lot of the different times of day and how the shading, you know, next tracker works with some of the, you know that the position of the sun in the sky, those kinds of things, and I think those will be solutions you’ll see and agrivoltaics moving forward here.
Steffen Mirsky 21:21
How far are we away from being able to scale this up to commercial scale? Do you feel like the the research results or are like we’re getting nearer to that point?
Eric Romich 21:33
We have utilized this data and kind of packaged into a Department of Energy proposal that was recently awarded. So we’re kind of in the final negotiation phases of of that award. So we haven’t technically started yet, but we’re, you know, the project’s been awarded, we’re kind of working with DOE to kind of dot the i’s, cross the T’s and get a start date. But I think that once we get through that research, you know, the first couple years of that research, I think it’ll tell us a lot in terms of how ready we are to say, here’s how you go about best management practices to establish these forage systems in 1000 acre, or, you know, Sarah 6000 acre site, right.
Sarah Moser 22:18
Eric’s a lot more maybe conservative than what I am Madison field sites in Madison County, Ohio. It’s under construction right now. And we have 1200 acres inside the fence, I think about 440 Acres is is covered in panels or in in glass, right. And that leaves us like 730 acres to between the rows, under the panels, outside of the rows and all of that to farm. The entire site will be seeded with a hayable, grazable mix, minus the the test plot that that OSU needs, where we’re going to be doing hay and alfalfa and cover crops and on a much larger scale than we had done it in between the rows. But I’ll tell you yesterday, we double cropped our beans we have on site right now we picture your you know, you’ve got your vegetative management plan. And there’s not panels covering the whole site, we’ve got a 45 acre portion that’s inside the fence that’s like a buffer. You know, as you’re coming up to the substation, we’ve got some lowlying areas where we’ve used them as natural retention ponds, but they’re only wet in the spring. So so the farmers have always gone in and planted something in there. So we want to let it go go ahead and plant it. We’ve got 15 acres of soybeans growing there, we’ve got another 70 acres, a 70 acre strip where there was a tile main that we avoided in our design. So so there’s soybeans growing there, and it’s cool because, you know, you see the construction team out there working driving piles, hanging panels, and then you see see my farmer go by, you know, in his tractor and they’re waving at him, you know, and you’ve got so we’ve got, you know, farm equipment operating inside the fence. We harvested wheat the day before yesterday, we did our double cropped our beans into it yesterday, we got great drone footage of it and pictures and you know, I’m super excited about everybody’s laughs at me like oh, boy, it doesn’t take much to get Sarah excited but like we are farming this site now. And you know, Ohio State is going to come in and prove the data behind it as far as the the crude proteins and the biomass and the stuff for the things that we grow on site. But you know, my farmer can tell you he’s gotten yield from that wheat already and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be having farmers work on the sites where there’s available land. So…
Eric Romich 24:50
To kind of follow up on that, I guess, give you the rest of the picture the story for for what are our research project is on that DOE grant, we really kind of look at it as four kind of core buckets of, of research focus. And our first is, is to kind of get replication on our forage crop production. So take what we learned with our test pilot plots, and put those into more of a commercial application. So, you know, we’ll have like 35 acres of our test plots that are under glass there, and then of course, control zones. But and again, that’s, that’s going to get to that point of, you know, how different are the results based on the construction practices or construction impact, right. The other thing that we’re looking at is complimentary grazing. And so, you know, Brady Campbell, who’s our sheep grazing specialist here at OSU, you know, Brady has been contacted by, I would say, every solar developer on the East Coast, talking about, you know, grazing these sites, and it’s like, there’s not enough animals in North America to graze all the solar sites in in Ohio. And so, you know, one of the things that we were looking at, though, is, you know, if we can mechanically harvest most of the site, and then obviously, there’s going to be strips next to the to the post that you don’t want to get too close with equipment. So you know, he’s going to be doing some research with kind of, I guess, we’ve kind of tagged complimentary grazing, so we’ll come in and harvest zone and then he’ll come in and kind of target graze that area to clean up the around the post, and so forth. Well, we don’t get too close with the the equipment. And of course, he’s going to be looking at, you know, animal behavior, and health and weight gain and, you know, equipment and how you actually manage those herds within the, within the zone. So that’s our second bucket, the third area, Sara has touched on, and that’s precision agriculture. So really looking at, you know, how do we utilize precision ag and digital technology to to optimize the management of these sites. You know, as you look at 1000s, and 1000s of acres, potentially, that we could be, you know, have potential to grow forage crops on. And so, again, Kubota, is our partner on this DOE project with that, and we have Dr. Shearer, here at OSU Ag Engineering kind of taking lead on that aspect. And then the last one is soil health. And that’s, that’s one we’re, you know, we’re really excited to, to better understand what is the site look like post construction, right? So we have, we have compaction samples, all across the site, and a lot of compaction samples in our research zone, looking at, you know, what were the compaction levels of this site as it’s existed in a corn soybean rotation over the years, and will come in post construction and get a comparative reading to see okay, so how bad was the disturbance. And then from there, you know, what series of cover crops could we use to help, you know, expedite the, you know, decompaction of those sites coming out of construction. So, you know, thinking of, you know, some deep tap rooted type cover crops that could help break up those top soils and, and get them ready to put back into production. But, you know, that’s one of the areas and Sarah sees this as well. I mean, it seems like when when you hear people talking about solar at this magnitude, the biggest, the biggest negative you hear is all you’re taking good prime farmland out of production. And the other end of that you hear well, we can put it right back into production when we’re done. And I think the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. But we don’t really know, right, we don’t know what the impact of the site is. But to just say that, well, we can’t farm it again, I think is, you know, let’s get some data to see. And, you know, I think the ability to look at this on the construction side, will give us the right management practices when when you do look at kind of end of Project Life or decommissioning, right? So if we can identify strategies to decompact the soils using cover crops, and different rotations after they construct it, it’s very similar process to take it out. Right, so then we can kind of apply that on the back end of these projects to help get them back into some type of production sooner rather than later.
Will Fulwider 29:30
Well, all of that sounds pretty dang exciting. I’m excited, Sarah. I share your excitement. And well, it sounds like we’re gonna have to check back in in a couple years to see how this much larger project is going and updates from that. Well, is there anything that you all would like to add here at the end?
Sarah Moser 29:48
I don’t think you should wait that long to check in. Well, I think you need to come sooner. So hopefully we’ll be seeing, you know, depending on how the DOE awards go, you know, we’re thinking this fall here to get to get the hay and alfalfa out so that we’ll have something growing and have something for you to look at and come down and see. And, and then we keep mentioning the 6000 acre project, you know, when that when that baby gets out there, we’re gonna be doing some real cool stuff. So it’s exciting. It really is. And I tell this farmers out there, you know, instead of fighting it or saying it’s not going to work, figure out how to be a part of it, you know, and whether it’s cheaper, or, you know, even dairy cows, you know, it doesn’t have to be under the panels there’s so much buffer area involved with these sites, maybe you need grazing, you know, maybe there’s a solution there. Kunekune pigs, you know, people are grazing those. So there’s lots of different solutions for these projects. And farmers all have a side hustle. So they need to keep their, their ears open. And, you know, their brains turn in for ways to be involved. Because this is something that that’s happening. And it’s it’s exciting.
Will Fulwider 30:59
Great, Eric, any last thoughts?
Eric Romich 31:01
Oh, no. I mean, I would just echo Sarah’s enthusiasm. I mean, this is something that, you know, as I mentioned, I’ve been working Christina, and I’ve been trying to get this off the ground since like, 2015, 2016, right? We’ve had, we’ve had three or four different sites along the way that it’s like, okay, this is going to happen, it’s not going to happen. And so, you know, finding a partnership where, you know, they’re truly interested in in you, how can we do this better? And I think that that’s a question we should all be asking ourselves, I mentioned, you know, earlier in the podcast, as we kick this off, you know, everybody’s favorite form of energy is one, it’s generated somewhere else, right? All of all of these different sources have their flaws. And there’s, there’s no kind of silver bullet that this is our solution. And it’s okay to say that out loud. Sometimes, I feel like people cringe, but it’s like, oh, well, this is a weakness of, of solar. It’s okay. Right? There’s, there’s a challenge. So how can we how can we try and address that? How can we try to minimize that, and that’s, you know, that’s what we’re doing here is the weaknesses, it takes up a lot of horizontal surface area, but what we’re trying to do is find ways that we can still, you know, have that as productive ground that can be feeding into multiple end industries, you know, it kind of eliminates some of that, you know, pinning food versus energy against one another. And so, I think there’s a lot of potential here, but the thing that is really going to be critical moving forward is to make sure that, you know, we can identify these, these, these little challenges and hiccups along the way and start to kind of flush them out so that we can say, you know, here’s your guide to doing this on a commercial scale, here are the things you really got to look for, as it relates to, you know, operating equipment in these zones, or, you know, design considerations on the developers end so that we can get equipment through the alleys. Right. I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s a major deal. When sit when Sarah, Sarah called me one point and said, I don’t I don’t know, we were going to not bury this DC cable. I was like, well, we can’t run tractors to the alley, if the cables are there. And so those types of challenges are, they’re real, and they happen every day, but at the same time, it’s that awareness, it’s that communication that can say, look, here’s what we can do, you know, how can we work together to to make this happen and, and demonstrating that it can actually be done on a commercial scale. And then and then when we get the economics, I think it’s really gonna change some things.
Will Fulwider 33:37
Well, Sarah, and Eric, thanks for coming on today. We really appreciate it.
Eric Romich 33:43
Sarah Moser 33:44
Thank you guys.
Will Fulwider 33:50
Thanks for listening. This has been field notes from UW Madison extension. My name is Will Fulwider regional crops educator for Dane and dodge counties. A big thank you to Joe Ryan for creating our theme music and Abby Wilkymacky for a logo. If you have any questions about anything you’ve heard today, or about your farming practices in general, reach out to the extension agriculture educators serving your region