The UMass Research Farm in South Deerfield is a 358-acre agronomy and vegetable farm that conducts research on ethnic and other vegetable crops, agronomic and bioenergy crops, organic agriculture and pasture. The farm has a student-run vegetable project and also trains students in artificial insemination of cattle. Faculty, extension staff, and graduate students conduct applied research and are assisted by talented technicians, field staff and undergraduate students. Since the spring of 2010, it has also been home to a 106-panel, 25 kilowatt PV project.
It has received support from the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, Center for Agriculture, UMass Facilities, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. The effort represents a public-private partnership with Berkshire Management Group and Diversified Construction Services, LLC. joining in to bring this demonstration project to its current stage.
These systems are placed either on non food-producing or marginal soils or on dedicated centralized towers or sloping roof structures that allow land use underneath or can also serve as storage facilities.
The research project has three goals. First, it examines and documents the results of implementing ground-mounted solar energy technology on farm land while simultaneously producing a crop. It also is designed to produce an electric power source to offset power usage at the research farm. Finally, the project will demonstrate how this type of PV can be implemented by a farm cost effectively.
UMass Amherst raised funding for this effort from a combination of sources, including the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, UMass Extension Center for Agriculture, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and DAR. Two private sector interests are also participating, including Berkshire Management Group Director Michael Lehan and David Marley, manager of Diversified Construction Services, LLC.
To view real time information about the power being produced by the array, click here.