Farmers across the U.S. have an always available, lucrative source to harvest—and it doesn’t need any soil, water, or back-breaking planting. It’s solar power.
Some farmers are leasing out their land to solar companies who install acres of solar panels and harvest the energy, reported Bloomberg. These companies have been on the hunt for large swaths of flat, treeless land, and they’ve found it on typical crop-growing farms.
One North Carolina farmer, Dawson Singletary, leased out his 34-acre farm to Strata Solar, telling Bloomberg that “there is not a single crop that we could have grown on that land that would generate the income that we get from the solar farm.”
Strata Solar is able to produce enough energy from the 21,600 panels installed on Singletary’s farm to power as many as 5,000 local homes.
As the prices of many crops, like soybeans, cotton, and peanuts, have dipped precipitously in the past few years, solar companies have swept in to offer well-paying deals to lease farmland. The going rate is anywhere between $300 to $700 an acre per year, according to the NC Sustainable Energy Association.
More and more farmers across the southeast have been making the switch from food and material crops to solar panel fields. About 7,000 acres of North Carolina farmland has been covered since 2013 while Georgia has added nearly 200 megawatts of solar energy across its pasturelands, reported Bloomberg.