What do you know about sheep?  You have five seconds.  Quickly, list everything you know about sheep. Go! (Probable answers:  They’re fluffy.  White.  Kinda round.  They go “baahh.”  They eat grass.)

Bingo!  If you said, “They eat grass,” you’ve got it.  A sheep’s primary staple is grass. But they also like clover and other pasture plants. They’re herbivores who need to eat 1590 calories a day —- of plants!.  

Sheep have few demands.  They need plentiful pastures, an ample water supply, and, usually, a barn or three-sided shelter to protect them during inclement weather or at night. And, more than just being easy to care for, sheep have recently gained popularity for other reasons….

An ideal habitat for sheep: A solar farm

Long hours of planning go into a solar farm.  There are architect’s blueprints, engineering reports, acquiring land, local regulations, and the actual construction.  What’s often lacking in advanced planning, though, is how to keep the grassy expanses that surround banks of solar panels from growing too tall and blocking sunlight.

According to the European Institute for Climate and Energy, more solar farms than you’d think neglect the acres surrounding their investments.  James Huff, of abakus solar USA, has researched “methods that can be implemented during the planning and construction phase of a project” that can reduce overhead and maintenance, extend a solar farm’s life, and prevent damage from overgrown vegetation. Here goes:

solar sheep as solution

And Huff isn’t alone in his analysis.  Many solar farms now rely on sheep to control their grassy fields.

  • Sheep Mow Grass at Lawrenceville School Solar Field
  • Solar Sheep Report: The English Experience
  • Carlisle Area School District Mowing Chores Farmed out to Sheep
  • Hungry Sheep Help Save Money at U of Queensland Solar Research Farm

Just when it seems that renewable energy sources must resort to chemicals or other non-organic means to maintain efficiency, along comes a natural solution.  In this case, it’s solar sheep to the rescue!

Idea Credit:  Kristen Nicole at Women in Solar Energy (WISE)

Image Credit:  James Huff

(Note:  In an article I wrote earlier this month about the top eco-businesses to consider for 2016, raising goats to rent out as mowers was near the top.  But recent reports from Modern Farmer and others seem to indicate that sheep may, actually, be more versatile and mild tempered. Eco-entrepreneurs: the choice is yours.)