Your rooftop garden could be a solar powered working farm.

Long area Cats, seasonal wrinkles, and occasional fluttering, roofs are getting thicker with solar panels. A home or business terrace is an ideal place to site them as there is less obstruction due to shade in sunlight and roofs are usually unused areas – better for the environment than for solar farms. Instead of clearing new land, panels should be added to the existing structure.

But even panel roofs may not be as well used as they used to be. A new scientific discipline called RoofTop Agrotechnics asks: What if we? Also Grow crops under them? These will not be ordinary green roofs, which are usually small gardens, but working farms. These panels will provide shade for the plants – in fact, increase their productivity – as well as reduce the cooling costs for the building and simultaneously generate clean energy for the structure. The urban population is projected to more than double by 2050. As people continue to migrate to the metropolises, roofed agricultural products can feed people and make city life more bearable.

A canopy is actually a very difficult place for plants to grow. There, a plant is constantly bombarded by strong winds and sunlight because there are no sheltering trees nearby. (Accordingly, hardy succulents are preferred plants for green roofs.) Yes, plants need light, but not so much. Jennifer Bosselt, a horticulturalist at Colorado State University who is studying rooftop agriculture, says: ” “Instead of carbon dioxide, they start taking in oxygen and trying to break it down, and so they waste energy.”

Photo: Thomas Hockey

Instead, think of these as actions that you must take on a regular basis, except for the tallest trees in the world. For the plants closest to the forest floor, light is spread, which is bouncing around the surfaces around them. The tall trees around them also expose them less to wind and temperature swings than they would to an open field.

The idea of ​​agrivoltaics is to mimic this forest environment for crops. In Colorado, scientists are experimenting with groundwater orchards and found that plants grow in the shade. This is probably a physiological response to the need for more light, and is great for leafy crops like lettuce as it increases their yield. Pepper plants also bear three times more fruit in the agricultural system than the full sun. As a bonus, shade plants need about half as much water as otherwise because there is less sunlight which causes evaporation.

The same concept will work on the roof: solar panels will provide shade which makes the plants happier and less thirsty. Underneath the roof panels, Bosselt found, it cools in summer and warms in winter, and the panels work to break the wind. Plants will not have to become edible crops to benefit the surrounding landscape – for example, incorporating native plants into the agroelectics of rooftops will provide flowers for local jirgas. Scientists are also playing with the design of translucent solar panels, which would theoretically work better for species that require less sunlight than outdoors, but not full shade.


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