Double Duty

Land occupied by solar farm also used for agricultural production

sheep grazing in front of solar panels

The solar farm that provides electricity to Facebook’s Newton Data Center is now a farm in every sense of the word.

POWERING FACEBOOK

When Facebook decided to build its Newton Data Center, the social media giant chose Walton EMC as the power supplier. One of the deciding factors in picking your co-op is that we could meet the company’s desire for 100 percent renewable energy to power the facility.

Walton EMC then partnered with Silicon Ranch, the leading provider of solar energy to Georgia’s co-ops, to build and deliver some of that renewable energy. Their resulting 1,200-acre solar farm is located in Early County, which is primarily an agricultural community.

REGENERATING THE LAND

Typically, the land occupied by solar panels becomes fallow – once cultivated land that now lies idle. In most solar facilities it’s mowed occasionally, but that’s about it.

It’s different at Silicon Ranch’s Early County solar farm, the company’s first new build site to incorporate their holistic Regenerative Energy platform.

Silicon Ranch is partnering with local farmers and regenerative ranchers to manage grazing animals, native plants, pollinator habitat (for honey bees and the like) and wildlife at their solar farm. These elements will work together for many benefits:

  • Improved soil.
  • Improved air and water quality.
  • More diverse animal and plant life.
  • Trapping carbon in the soil.
  • Job creation.
  • Stronger rural economies.

Simply put, farmers will pasture grazing animals, starting with sheep, inside the solar facility. The waste generated from these animals returns to the soil, building valuable organic matter.

Farmers will refrain from tilling the soil and also plant native cover crops to establish a healthy grassland ecosystem. Traditional farming methods, like using commercial fertilizer and heavy tillage, deplete the soil’s organic matter.

As solar power grows in use, the industry will eventually be responsible for managing 6 million acres of land.

Learn more: Silicon Ranch Regenerative Energy