Solar Production Threatens Fertile Farmlands

Solar installations are causing soil erosion and raising concerns among farmers in some of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions.

1 minute read

April 30, 2024, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of large solar panel installation in rural area in Indiana.

Aaron / Adobe Stock

“A renewable energy boom risks damaging some of America's richest soils in key farming states like Indiana, according to a Reuters analysis of federal, state and local data; hundreds of pages of court records; and interviews with more than 100 energy and soil scientists, agricultural economists, farmers and farmland owners, and local, state and federal lawmakers.”

As P.j. Huffstutter and Christopher Walljasper explain, in addition to shifting thousands of acres from farming to solar production, “Common solar farm construction practices, including clearing and grading large sections of land, also can lead to significant erosion and major runoff of sediment into waterways without proper remediation, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department.”

These practices are putting productive areas of farmland out of commission, causing concern about the future of U.S. agriculture as the demand for solar energy grows, which is projected to require up to 5 percent of each state’s land area. “By 2050, to meet the Biden Administration's decarbonization targets, the U.S. will need up to 1,570 gigawatts of electric energy capacity from solar.”

Saturday, April 27, 2024 in Reuters

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