This year, two further research projects were realised in Rathenow. The Jülich Research Centre analysed the plant growth of various ornamental plant species in different shaded areas. As a second research project, plant physiological parameters were investigated in a scientific set-up. The results are currently being evaluated by the Jülich Research Centre and will be published at a later date.
Two other ongoing research projects of SUNfarming are the fertiliser concentrate production from the liquid fermentation residues of the biogas plant in combination with plant production in the Food & Energy plant and the solar module cooling combined with the reuse of the heat gained for plant cultivation. The results will be published in 2022.
National and international representatives from business and politics show great interest in the forward-looking research projects and have regularly visited the Rathenow Research and Innovation Centre to learn about the projects and further planning during plant tours led by our expert staff. Among others, the Minister of Economics of Brandenburg and the Ambassador of Panama and many agricultural interest groups visited us.
The previous SUNfarming research results of the Agri-Solar plant in Rathenow show that solar energy combined with food production and valuable herbs is an ecologically highly topical issue for the coming years. Our excellent results show that valuable medicinal herbs and regionally produced vegetables can be successfully grown in our SUNfarming Agri-Solar facilities, even on sandy soils.
"To date, we have trained 685 potential new gardeners in the SF Community Entrepreneur training programme. We have created new school gardens on a total area of about 4000 m². From our first trainings at BA Saobi Secondary School in Ikageng, spinach is already being harvested and used in the school kitchen," enthuses Melanie Jooste, Team Leader SUNfarming South Africa.
In addition, during the project period 2021/2022, 28.8 million servings of high-quality, healthy Vitality Porridge developed by SUNfarming will be delivered to more than 40 schools over a period of 18 months through the SF Vitality Porridge food aid programme. It will be distributed to 10,000 school children and 50,000 relatives.
The SUNfarming DeveloPPP project is supported in its organisation by the June & Andrew Mlangeni Foundation, the non-profit association F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.) Hamburg and the F.E.E.D. NGO South Africa. (The German non-profit association FEED and its sister organisation in South Africa are additionally collecting donations from international donors, companies and foundations in order to further expand the urgently needed and sustainable development aid in South Africa in addition to the DEG project.
The pictures show some of the steps in the production process:
Trainees receive hands-on instruction in the selection and proper sorting of harvested mugwort.
Afterwards, the mugwort is gently dried slowly at below 40 degrees in special drying houses powered by solar energy. Slow drying is crucial for the active ingredient content.
After drying, the mugwort is sorted again and then ground into a fine powder.
The finished powder is filled into bags or buckets and delivered to a food factory for further processing.
1. Biofertilizer from fermentation residues:
Development of a solar-powered process to process digestate from biogas plants and produce liquid biofertilizer
2. PV cooling mat:
Solar power generation by cooling PV modules using innovative cooling mats and combined use of heat potential (PV cooling mat)
3. Artemisia annua cultivation:
Sustainable cultivation for ecological and economical cultivation of Artemisia Annua in partially shaded agri-solar systems
4. Aquaponics in PV plants:
Development of an energy sustainable and resource efficient aquaculture cycle system under the partially shaded areas of Agri-Solar plants
Development of an autonomous agro-robot for efficient Artemisia cultivation in Agri-Solar facilities
The total complex consisting of a skylight dome hall, 2 shed roof halls, 2 x light weight halls, 2 Food & Energy facilities and a social building has 730 kWp of installed PV capacity with an energy production of 690 MWh per year.
"None of us can do that much
like we all can do together ".
With this in mind, we wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a hopeful start to the new year. Health, happiness and good luck - combined with our sincere thanks for your trust!
With festive greetings
Your SUNfarming team
The following article is a translation and was published on December 4th, 2020 in the Spreejournal Fürstenwalde, Bettina Winkler)
Five farmers from the Odervorland office are providing areas for a photovoltaic park, which is to become one of the largest in Brandenburg.
Farmers in the region have been concerned for years and are fighting to keep their farms going. Due to climate change, the amount of precipitation has almost halved in the last 30 years and the productivity of the soil is declining more and more.
The Sunfarming GmbH from Erkner is now promising farmers from the Steinhöfel community income independent of traditional agriculture. Double-use photovoltaic systems are to be built on low-yield soils. Means: On the one hand, solar energy is generated by the higher-placed modules. On the other hand, the areas below can still be used for agriculture.
Trees shield systems
The aim is to create a climate park that is spread over several areas. The systems should stand outside the field of vision and be shielded by hedges or rows of trees. The operator expects a total output of over 500 megawatts. This would make the future project one of the largest in Brandenburg. The community representatives are aware of the importance of the project and see a great opportunity for rural areas. They unanimously decided to initiate the necessary changes to the development plan and the land use plan in the individual districts. “The project is a huge opportunity for our company. We have long been looking for land use that is independent of the weather and offers financial security, ”says Benjamin Meise, Managing Director of Fürstenwalder Agrarprodukte GmbH. "Many farmers are up to their necks". Benjamin Meise has already selected abandoned or low-yield areas for the climate park.
Set-aside areas or low-yield soils are built on with modules.
The OderSpree district farmers' association also takes the view that photovoltaic systems belong on roofs, commercial and special buildings as well as conversion areas. For free-field systems, primarily non-agricultural areas are to be used. "In the case of agro-photovoltaic systems, on the other hand, the areas used for agriculture are not lost and can continue to be cultivated," says district manager Dr. Karsten Lorenz. In his opinion, the planned system in Steinhöfel should therefore be seen more as a pilot system in which several farmers have come together to test the new type of management using photovoltaics on very low-yield locations in terms of economy and profitability.
For Sunfarming from Erkner, the solar park on the planned scale is a pilot project.