Can Saffron be paired with Solar Production?

10 mins

Ever thought of combing the farming of saffron with the application of a solar farm? No? Wel...

Mane Energy Team

By Mane Energy Team

Ever thought of combing the farming of saffron with the application of a solar farm? No? Well in Vermont this type of thing is being implemented as well as encouraged. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of crocus sativus also known as ‘saffron crocus’ which is commonly associated with Iran and Spain. Research from Grand View Research found that the global market size for the saffron market will reach $2 billion by 2025 making it very lucrative for any farmer. Though it is not as easy as it sounds because a farmer would need to pick the flower and separate the tiny stigmas by hand which can be very fiddly.

In Vermont, a farm owned by Brian Leven a Lawer who yields 182 flowers, agreed with Margaret Skinner a researcher at the University of Vermont to allow her to experiment with his farm. They wanted to find out if saffron could be successfully grown around a solar array. After 3 years that concluded that under the right soil conditions, saffron grows well in the aisles and at the edges of a solar array. The crop was most profitable when grown in raised beds. The experiment was conducted in cooperation with iSun, a solar energy and clean mobility infrastructure company based in Williston. Steven Yates, director of project development at iSun, said the study demonstrates that solar panels and crop production need not be mutually exclusive. “Dual use of farmland is the way forward,” Yates said. “Particularly in the more-urban farmland areas, where the infrastructure and distribution systems are there and can handle the load easily.”

They found that the solar and mounts make it hard to tend crops but saffron specifically does not need to be tended frequently which makes it ideal as well as being able to survive the Vermont winters. There are already solar developers in Vermont who are looking to practice agrivoltaics as they understand that given the pace of climate change combing solar and agriculture is important to think about.

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