From the concept of "sustained agriculture" to "sustainable agriculture"

Agriculture must be able to conserve resources, be socially useful, competitive and respectful of the environment; this implies an efficient use of available technologies and since agricultural sustainability presupposes the maximization of the net benefit, in order to achieve this objective, a correct balance of costs and benefits cannot be ignored.

Climate change, now evident, pushes farmers more and more to use protected crops to reduce the climate risk and positively affect the quality of the final product and the cost. In particular, the reduction in costs is determined among other things by the better management of the quantity of water intended for irrigation and a reduced consumption of pesticides, this involves the transition from the concept of "sustained agriculture" to "sustainable agriculture".

Photovoltaic greenhouses are the perfect balance point in this scenario, where even an investor can benefit from the economic model based on the production of electricity with a photovoltaic greenhouse, and be able to create an advantageous income statement, with a return on investment in the medium term and a satisfactory IRR.

The farmer can benefit from this investment which makes the greenhouse structure available as long as it is consistent with the planned cultivation project; in this way a perfect synergy is obtained between apparently so distant and different intentions. 

The photovoltaic greenhouse in this case represents an agro ecosystem in which the environment can be designed with the aim of maximizing the productivity of the crop with greater stability of production, a reduced fluctuation in the quantity and quality of the resources used and a lower dependence on factors. external.

In Italy, the dominant trend has been to adapt greenhouse cultivation to a non-optimal environment with minimal control of the microclimate by using greenhouses characterized by light structures covered by simple polyethylene films in order to minimize investments, justifying this approach by a report cost-benefit too high. Photovoltaic greenhouses, on the other hand, can improve this relationship by giving the farmer the opportunity to use high-tech cultivation environments with accurate microclimate and light controls.

An example can be constituted by indoor crops which for intrinsic reasons need to replace or integrate natural light with artificial light; in this type the photovoltaic generator can become a low cost energy source and improve the economic scenario of these crops. Basically, the photovoltaic generator produces energy to be fed into the electricity grid and partially transfers the energy to the agricultural entity for cultivation activities.

Furthermore, photovoltaic greenhouse structures can improve the management of the cultivation environment:

  • the air temperature,
  • relative humidity,
  • the light intensity,
  • the atmospheric concentration of Co2 ,
  • the water requirement

These elements can be controlled and regulated and consequently transpiration and temperature can be controlled at the root level to optimize the yield and quality of production as it is possible to synchronize irrigation with the light intensity and avoid excess irrigation to optimize the phase vegetative and reproductive.

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Calculate the DLI (Daily light integral) of the greenhouse you have in mind. Starting from the Italian geographical area concerned and knowing the limiting factors, in terms of the reduction of light radiation determined by the structure and material chosen as roofing, you can calculate the DLI of your project.

Energy green house photovoltaic rooftop solar
Naturae Plena

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