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Wheat grows better in agri-voltaic systems


Italian researchers conducted experiments to evaluate wheat quality grown under a high-intensity photovoltaic farming system. They found that it had a higher nutritional value for livestock.


The study was conducted by the CNR Institute of Bioeconomics at the University of Florence and Italian agro-photovoltaic specialists on 11.4 hectares of wheat in Borgo Virgilio, in the province of Mantua. The system included 7,680 Bisol panels and 768 trackers at a height of 4.5 meters, for a total photovoltaic coverage of 1.3 hectares.


The team used three 12 m x 12 m photovoltaic areas with a ground coverage ratio (GCR) of 13% and three 144 m2 areas with a GCR of 41%. Three reference sections with similar characteristics but without panels and shade structures were also used.


"The two-year trial showed that the reduction in grain yield was limited to the wax ripening phenology stage of the standard tracker (GCR = 13 percent), while the panels with higher shading showed a 29.6 percent reduction (GCR = 41 percent)," said Lucrezia Ghidesi. "The reduction in irradiance significantly changed the length of wheat plants, affecting the quality of forage biomass."


The research team considered parameters such as dry matter, ash, crude protein content, insoluble neutral detergent protein, insoluble acid detergent protein, soluble protein, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, and acid detergent lignin.


The study showed that shade affected the protein and fibrous fractions of grain biomass and the digestibility of ruminant feed.


The scientists explained, "After 24 hours of in situ incubation in the rumen, the digestible neutral detergent fiber increased with increasing shade." The content of crude and soluble protein, acid detergent insoluble protein, acid detergent fiber, and neutral detergent fiber was higher in the shaded zone than in the control zone. Biomass from the shaded zone had a better calcium-phosphorus ratio for feeding ruminants.


The team conducted the trial between 2022 and 2023. The data will be further validated by trials in 2024. The company explained that the average yield could change in the coming months.


The scientists concluded, "These results can help improve biomass yield and provide valuable information on durum wheat in agri-PV systems."

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