Under GAEC 8 (Healthy Agricultural Ecological Status), a set-aside area may only be grazed or mown in September. For this agricultural policy SUNfarming combines flowering meadows with agriphotovoltaics.
Over 40 different wildflower seeds are contained in the special mixture. Among them are various types of clover, meadow bluebell, viper's bugloss, corn poppy, true parsnip and meadow sage. The wildflower component in the SUNfarming mix is REWISA certified (Regional Wild Plant Seeds). Various grasses in the mixture increase forage quality and grazing suitability. They improve soil structure, suppress weeds and provide adaptation to dry or wet soil.
For biodiversity areas with natural species diversity, Agri-Photovoltaic plants are suitable, which are approx. 2.1m at the lowest edge. In general, sown wild herbs should reproduce themselves by seed. Cutting or mulching should therefore only take place after the seeds have set or not at all.
Due to the shading and the resulting cooler climate, evaporation under the panels is considerably reduced. Even between the rows of panels, the shadows cast by the module table counteract drying out. Under the panels, flowering plants develop more in the second year of standing and can flower for a very long time. The rainwater distribution technique has a positive effect; in this area, plants thrive better on light soil.
"From my point of view, it is worthwhile under Agri-PV systems to use a very versatile mix that can adapt to the environment (different shading, different soil, different climate depending on the location even within the system). Not only single grasses/flowering plants should be used. Drought-tolerant plants can be used as well as moisture-loving ones," explains Michael Bleiker, SUNfarming project manager at the Rathenow Research and Innovation Centre.
The wildflower mix produced for SUNfarming can now also be purchased under the trade name SUNfarming B1 from „Samen Schwarzenberger“.
Agrivoltaic systems that combine photovoltaic panels and agriculture, made by the German company SUNfarming, produce energy, provide shelter and space for plants and animals and ensure more efficient use of rainwater.
The "Food & Energy" facility, which is also used as a research and training centre for modern agriculture and solar energy technology, was ceremonially commissioned on 26 August 2023.
The GIZ team of the Project Development Programme (PEP) was received by Peter Schrum, founder and shareholder of SUNfarming, as well as David Morr, Head of the Research and Development Department and other SUNfarming staff.
The GIZ team works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) within the framework of the Energy Export Initiative with the aim of disseminating climate-friendly energy solutions and supporting market access for German and European small and medium-sized enterprises in selected cooperation countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This also strengthens economic development in the partner countries and contributes to international climate protection. In addition to classic rooftop PV systems, there is growing interest in these countries for the dual use of agriculture and energy transition through agri-PV systems.
The visitors were given a detailed insight into the developments and technologies in the field of Agri-PV. From the efficient use of solar energy to the integration into agricultural operations - the experts from SUNfarming showed how sustainable energy generation and agriculture go hand in hand.
From the efficient use of solar energy to integration into agricultural operations - the experts from SUNfarming showed how sustainable energy production and agriculture can go hand in hand.
During a joint tour, Michael Bleiker, farm manager in Rathenow, gave the visitors an insight into the research facilities. This was followed by an in-depth presentation and discussion of the SUNfarming concept and the services of the Export Initiative Energy project development programme.
SABC News, video report on the project: Food Security, over 40 schools benefit from the SUNfarming Vitality Booster Project
Labour is needed for production in the food industry. Accredited Agri-SETA trainers in organic vegetable production, provided by SUNfarming South Africa, take over the training of these workers. In this way, additional new jobs are created locally. Our trainees are much better equipped to find work in agriculture after completing our trainings.
300 unemployed people are trained in the training programme. For the top 60, the project offers further training on the farm property provided by SUNfarming in Potchefstroom. As licensed SUNfarming franchisers, a large number of them will help to supply supermarkets with organic vegetables and herbs.
As an emergency aid, Vitality Porridge is distributed to school children as a daily vitamin- and nutrient-rich supplement to their school lunch during the project period. In addition, the children receive a 5 kg bag to take home to their families. As there are often not enough plates in the schools, Vitality Porridge can also be distributed and drunk more diluted as a milkshake. The children love it all the more this way, because it tastes like a vanilla shake, they say.
The course participants can also take home a 5kg bag of Vitality Porridge. The school programmes supported by KfW/DEG aim to tackle malnutrition, one of the biggest development problems in African countries, at its root. Children are empowered directly at school and teachers are trained to pass on the knowledge they have gained about the essential importance of healthy food to the children. Through training and education directly in the production facilities and in cooperation with the church communities, jobs and sustainable future prospects are also created for the people in Africa.
"We would like to expressly thank all project partners without whose support we would not have been able to realise the emergency food aid and training programmes in the Vitality Porridge Project," Peter Schrum continues.
SUNfarming Vitality Porridge Project in South Africa is a PPP project and is funded by KfW/DEG. The project is supported in its organisation by develoPPP, Skills for All, german cooperation, F.E.E.D. (Food-Energy-Education-Development e.V.).
You can find all information at www.feed-ev.de or contact our Edith Brasche, Vice-President FEED e.V..
"We offer solutions for farmers who want to keep cows on their fields, for example. Then you can put up our photovoltaic protective roofs, which let wind and sun through and protect against rain," says Uwe Brandt, SUNfarming Project Manager North-East Office. "So you can combine livestock farming and energy production and this dual use is also eligible for subsidies. For us, this year's Mela was a complete success. We were able to provide many interested farmers with the necessary knowledge about the products and establish a number of contacts," says Brandt. The response was very positive. "We would like to come back next year and present the photovoltaic roofs again," says the project developer.