SEOUL -- A state research institute has translated an innovative idea into a novel agricultural business model to grow rice on idle lands under solar power-generating panels. The institute will develop its hybrid farming technique for wider use among rice farmers.
Solar power generating facilities that have the generating capacity of larger than 100 kilowatt-class have large photo-voltaic (PV) panel modules set up at an optimal angle to maximize their exposure to light. Most PV modules are built about one or two meters off the ground, making the ground beneath them almost useless.
The state-run Jeonnam Agricultural Research & Extension Services in Naju some 285 kilometers (177 miles) south of Seoul said in a statement on October 6 that it has successfully grown rice under a 100 kilowatt-class solar power facility. Rice grains are ready for harvesting.
The facility built by the agricultural research center has modules hung up on a truss structure that is about three meters tall. The truss was designed to be tall so that combines and other agricultural machines can freely move around the rice paddock. A rice farmer with a 100 kilowatt-class solar power generating facility can earn 12.7 million won ($10,930) every year by selling electricity, the institute said.
"Currently, the profit made by generating electricity is larger than growing rice but we believe that this technique will contribute to maximizing the profit of rice farmers if we further develop it," an unnamed institute official was quoted as saying. The institute will develop rice farming techniques so that its hybrid farming technique and power generating facilities can be distributed among rice farmers.
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