Iowa State research finds wind turbines good for crops

 

BY Iowa State University

via KTIC (NE) - March 11, 2018

 

Iowa State University researchers have found that wind turbines located in agricultural fields are a plus for the crops growing around them.

 

The overall effects on crops growing in wind farms appear to be positive said Gene Takle, Iowa State agronomy professor. He has led a team of plant and soil scientists along with extension specialists who have been looking into the effects since 2009.

 

They started their work after seeing more wind farms and turbines pop up around the state. The new land use was positive for the landowners where they were located, but the researchers wondered if it was the same for the farmers growing crops.

 

“It’s unusual because we’re continuing the previous land use and we’re adding another,” he said. “We’re sort of double-cropping because these can be thought of two forms of energy production. The Chinese do this when they plant soybeans in between horticultural crops. We’re planting turbines.”

 

If the wind turbines change the microclimate for corn and soybeans, the team wanted to learn if it is a big enough change to be measured and the potential impacts.

 

He said wind blowing across a corn or soybean field without turbines creates a certain turbulence that carries moisture from the transpiring crop, which rises into the atmosphere and pulls down cooler, drier air. At night the wind is calmer and the land cools.

 

Turbines take some of the wind energy, slowing it down but increasing its turbulence so it interacts with the crop more, possibly increasing evaporation from the crop or moving carbon dioxide down into the crop.

 

“The biggest changes are at night and that’s because during the day there’s a lot of chaotic turbulence, just because the sun is heating the surface and the wind is gusty,” Takle said. “At night when it gets pretty calm, the crop cools down and if it’s a humid night you start to get dew formation. If you add the turbines, it looks a little more like the daytime. So the dew formation is delayed and it may start to evaporate sooner.”

 

Since fungus and mold like a wet environment, the shorter the wet period makes it less favorable for the growth of those potential pathogens. In the fall, the shorter wet period could speed up harvesting because farmers typically have to wait for soybeans to dry in the morning.

 

Another factor is that wind turbines bring warmer air down to interact with the cool air near the surface. Throughout the wind farm, the surface is a little bit warmer which inhibits dew formation...

 

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http://kticradio.com/agricultural/iowa-state-research-finds-wind-turbines-good-for-crops/