Farm Progress America, May 20, 2024

Mike Pearson takes a look at how solar power generation sites are popping up on prime farmland across the USA. Arkansas farmers have learned about unintended consequences of the sites.

May 20, 2024

Mike Pearson takes a look at the conversion of farmland into solar generating sites and the consequences of the actions.

Solar power generating sites have become a hot topic in the Corn Belt as electrical utilities have began building massive solar field projects to bring more renewable energy to grids

Over 10 million acres are needed in order to generate the amount of power needed for the USA. So far, 800,000 acres are being used-- that's roughly the size of Rhode Island.

Some requirements for the construction of solar power generating sites include:

  • Easy site for construction

  • Close proximity to the grid

  • And plenty of direct sunlight

  • Plus, a broad flat area to install the panels.

Companies are paying $1,000 an acre for rent of the farmland which makes it hard for some landlords to say no when most farmland rentals are at $500.

However, there are unintended consequences for some Arkansas landowners are finding out the solar rentals could hamper the future especially around the Mississippi Delta area.

Landlords are finding out that prior converted farmland (land that had been wetlands and has been tiled) could lose the right for agriculture use in the future.

In December 23, 1984, an exemption was made to allow the land to stay tiled for agriculture use.

However, if the land is converted to solar generating panels, the land could be lost when the solar lease ends.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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