Farmers in Missouri may have a new tool for irrigating their crops: solar power.
According to a report in the Southeast Missourian, the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently conducting an experiment in Missouri's Cape Girardeau County to determine the viability of solar energy for powering an irrigation system. Ten two-foot-by-six-foot solar panels, combined into a single solar array, were used by a local farmer for a 24-acre corn field.
The Southeast Missourian notes that the experiment has seen promise and problems. The promise: Since its installation in June replaced the gasoline-powered irrigation system, the solar set up has pumped approximately 1.5 million gallons of water, even on days when clouds obscured the sunlight.
The problems: The solar configuration is only able to power lower-energy subsurface systems and not above-ground irrigation. Due to this limitation, the solar array is being moved to a somewhat smaller soybean field.