Agrivoltaics to shade cows in a pasture-based dairy system

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Recently, the combined use of solar photovoltaics and agriculture has been increasing and may provide farmers with an alternative means of income while increasing the health of dairy cows. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of grazing cattle under shade from a solar photovoltaic system. The study was conducted at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center's, Morris, MN, organic dairy. Twenty-four crossbred cows were used for the study from June to September 2019. The treatment groups of 6 cows had shade from a 30 kilowatt photovoltaic system in a pasture or no shade on pasture. Behavioral observations and production were evaluated on cows during four periods of the summer months. Smaxtec boluses (smaXtec, Graz, Austria) and a sensor (CowManager SensOor, Agis Automatisering BV, Harmelen, the Netherlands) monitored internal body temperature and activity and rumination on all cows. No differences in fly prevalence, milk production, fat and protein production, body weight, body condition score, drinking bouts, hock lesions, or locomotion were found between the groups. Shade cows had dirtier bellies and dirtier lower legs (2.2 and 3.2, respectfully) than no shade cows (1.9 and 2.9, respectfully). During the afternoon, shade cows had lower respiration rates (66.4 breaths/min) than no shade cows (78.3 breaths/min). From 12:00 to 18:00?h and 18:00 to 00:00?h, shade cows had lower body temperatures (39.0 and 39.2?°C, respectfully) than no shade cows (39.3 and 39.4?°C, respectfully). Incorporating agrivoltaics into a pasture dairy system may increase the health of dairy cows, reduce heat stress, and increase the efficiency of the land.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAgriVoltaics 2021 Conference
Subtitle of host publicationConnecting Agrivoltaics Worldwide
EditorsMax Trommsdorff
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780735442764
StatePublished - Dec 6 2022
EventAgriVoltaics 2021 Conference: Connecting Agrivoltaics Worldwide - Freiburg, Germany
Duration: Jun 14 2021Jun 16 2021

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


ConferenceAgriVoltaics 2021 Conference: Connecting Agrivoltaics Worldwide

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Author(s).


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