Alson Time, Nuria Gomez‐Casanovas, Paul Mwebaze, Wilgince Apollon, Madhu Khanna, Evan H. DeLucia, Carl J. Bernacchi

Conservation agrivoltaics for sustainable food‐energy production

  • Horticulture
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Forestry

Societal Impact StatementTransformative agricultural strategies like agrivoltaics (AV) are essential for addressing the pressing global issues of sustainable energy and food production in a changing climate. Conservation‐agrivoltaics (Conservation‐AV) provides the potential to meet these needs while reinforcing natural resources and protecting the environment. It could enhance the ecological benefits of AV by improving soil health and biodiversity. It could create economic opportunities for farmers and increase the resilience and diversity of food crops under changing climate conditions. Furthermore, it could inform stakeholders about the benefits and challenges of implementing conservation agriculture management practices (CAMP) in AV and encourage further exploration and adoption of this innovative approach.SummaryTransformative strategies in agriculture are needed to address urgent global challenges related to energy and food production while reinforcing natural resources and the environment. Agrivoltaics (AV) has emerged in the past decade as one solution to this fundamental challenge of improving energy and food security. AV is defined as the co‐location of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and crops on the same land to optimize food and energy production simultaneously and sustainably. Here, we propose that AV, together with conservation agriculture management practices (CAMP) strategies can help to intensify food security and energy production while reinforcing natural resources and the environment. Our main assertions in this opinion article are that: (1) AV systems need to overcome several agronomical, environmental, and ecological challenges to intensify food and energy production sustainably; (2) CAMP applied to AV systems can preserve the environment and ensure climate‐resilient food production; (3) implementation of CAMP in AV can lead to long‐term carbon sequestration, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain or increase crop yields while preserving soil health and biodiversity; and (4) adoption of CAMP in AV can bring economic benefits, although challenges need to be overcome. This opinion article proposes a new ecosystem approach to integrate renewable energy and sustainable food production and encourages research on the effects of CAMP on AV systems.

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