Get The Dirt #149

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Maximizing Crop Land - Synergising Energy and Food Production 

Getting a 10 C cooling benefit from plants with optimal placement of solar panels overhead.  

The initial idea from Agrivoltaics, a farming practice that combines food production and power generation to minimize competition between the two, was to put solar panels on low fertility land and crops on more fertile soil.  However, taking into account that solar panels suffer a 0.5% drop in efficiency with every degree rise above 25 C and plants cool the ground beneath them, the benefit of putting them together was evaluated.   The model, which evaluated 18 scenarios and took into account a range of wind speed and ambient temperatures, shows that mounting the panels 4 meters above the ground maximizes the benefits of the shared space.  An agrovoltaics farm in Ontario is implementing the guidance to measure real world benefits for electricity production and the impacts on the plants beneath.

For more details see: 


Mycoforestry - An Innovative Way to Grow Food, Forest and Sequester Carbon

You get forestry, food production and carbon sequestration by inoculating saplings with spores to grow culinary mushrooms as the trees develop. New woodlands with this co-culture can be introduced into deforested areas to capture carbon from the trees and produce protein from the mushrooms.  The saffron milk cap mushroom is considered as a first test case. 

For details see:


Lower Carbon Shipping 

A tech informed approach to revisit sailing the high seas. A Swedish company, Oceanbird, is developing huge sails designed from insights developed in yacht racing  to fit existing shipping container vessels, cutting emissions by 10%, saving an estimated 675,000 liters of diesel per ship per year.  Building on this, Oceanbird has designed a 200 meter car carrier, Orcelle WInd, that will cut emissions by at least 60%, with plans to boost this to 90% reduction when optimizing all “emission-influencing factors” 

 For more details:


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