In a world where sustainability and environmental responsibility are at the forefront, innovative approaches are emerging to manage the challenges posed by vegetation around solar arrays. Spartan Renewable Energy and Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) found an eco-friendly solution to this challenge by collaborating with Dussel’s Farm Market and Greenhouse, who use sheep for vegetation management. This unique partnership not only benefits the environment but also showcases the power of local collaborations.
A Woolly Opportunity:
Mark Dussel from Dussel’s Farm represents the fourth generation of a family deeply rooted in farming. However, his family’s venture into vegetation management was not originally a part of any sort of plan. Mark couldn’t have known that when his mother developed a liking for sheep decades ago and started raising them on the farm, it would turn into a future revenue stream. When the opportunity to work with Spartan and MEC arose, the Dussels were open to trying something new.
“I couldn’t have imagined this twenty years ago,” said Mark Dussel. “This was my mother’s pet project. I never would have thought it would grow into such a great collaboration in our community.”
Benefits of the Baa-rilliant Idea:
The partnership has proven to be mutually beneficial. The sheep graze on the vegetation, giving the Dussel pasture a chance to rest and regenerate, while unruly grass and weeds around the solar array get a much-needed “mowing.”
The sheep graze just four miles from the farm and are checked on regularly for their wellbeing by shepherd, Ethan Dussel who represents part of the 5th generation of Dussel farmers. When the pasture grass grows tall, the sheep come in, effectively managing the vegetation while providing natural sustenance for the animals. This innovative approach allows the farm to support more sheep with less pastureland and optimize their resources.
A Sustainable Approach:
Dussel’s collaboration with Spartan and MEC aligns with their shared commitment to sustainability. Using sheep for vegetation management is a greener option compared to conventional mowing methods.
“Sheep grazing offers an environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution to vegetation maintenance and is a great opportunity for farmers,” said Bob Hance, MEC CEO/President. “Our customers and community members love seeing the sheep on the property. Plus, we’ve even found that the sheep enjoy their quiet, safe home so much that they have to be encouraged to leave when winter comes.”
Due to the good relationship the array has with Dussel’s, a long-term agreement was hashed out, that included the digging of a well on the solar farm, to keep the sheep hydrated, without having to manually haul water to the site. It’s another opportunity to make the process even greener, as it eliminates the need for Dussel to haul a large water tank from the farm and back. It also gets extra credit because the well itself is powered by a small solar battery.
A Bright Future:
As the world continues to seek ways to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize environmental impact, this simple, but impactful collaboration serves as an example of how creative thinking and community partnerships can lead to sustainable solutions. With the sheep quietly grazing around the solar array, we are reminded that sometimes, the most “cutting-edge” answers can be found in the simplest, time-tested practices.