Solar Panels Should Cover Buildings, Not Farm Land

It’s Earth Day — a day for reflection on our impact on the earth. Invariably, it’s also a day for promoting alternatives to the common way we do things — alternative energy being a main focus. In Ontario, government-funded alternative energy initiatives such as biomass generation, wind or solar energy has stirred controversy. Whether it is the impact on land values or the pure cosmetic issues, wind and solar power have been very polarizing subjects.

This morning I picked up on this tweet by Sunderland, Ont., farmer Jim Smith.

If you cannot see the above tweet, CLICK HERE

It really does make me wonder whether it makes sense to take productive farmland out of production to create this kind of solar (or wind) farm.  There is a difference between having some panels on top of the shop to creating a 100 acre solar farm.

In this video from 2010, Ontario Farmer Steve Twynstra shares his reasons for investing in solar energy on his farm.

At a time when the population is increasing and food will become more and more scarce globally covering productive farmland with wind and solar equipment should not make you feel better about the environmental stewardship.  In my opinion this is an example of the modern view on being “environmental.”

The concept is not well thought out.

Taking productive farmland out of production is not being environmentally responsible at all. Putting a wind turbine on top of a ridge is fine but building a wind farm on an acre where corn used to grow at 150 to 200 bushels is not. Sure, yes, some years a plot of land may be used to grow biofuel, but in the rotation years that land can still grow food. I am all for green energy in many ways, whether it be in electric cars, solar energy, and wind power, but not when it permanently converts food producing farmland to what we see in Jim smith’s above tweet.


Shaun Haney

Shaun Haney is the founder of He creates content regularly and hosts RealAg Radio on Rural Radio 147 every weekday at 4:30 PM est. @shaunhaney


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