Research and development

On the way to a cli­ma­te-friend­ly future

Pro­found know-how, many years of expe­ri­ence — and the pas­si­on to recon­ci­le agri­cul­tu­re and cli­ma­te-friend­ly ener­gy pro­duc­tion through intel­li­gent solu­ti­ons: We have deve­lo­ped our high-per­for­mance agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems on this basis.

At the same time, we are working inten­si­ve­ly with part­ners from sci­ence and rese­arch to make our tech­no­lo­gies even bet­ter, bit by bit. We are not only con­cer­ned with the effi­ci­en­cy and prac­ti­ca­li­ty of our sys­tems, but also with spe­ci­es pro­tec­tion and care­ful manage­ment of the soil.

Some of our cur­rent pro­jects from the area of rese­arch & deve­lo­p­ment are pre­sen­ted on this page.

Agri PV

Agri-Photovoltaik & Watermanagement 

Agri PV

The EIP-Agri rese­arch pro­ject with Ost­fa­lia Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­en­ces, the Let­ten­bich­ler far­ming com­mu­ni­ty, Andre­as Bar­ge and Stei­ni­cke Haus der Hoch­land­ge­wür­ze GmbH on the topic of “Pro­duc­ti­vi­ty and Sus­taina­bi­li­ty in Agri­cul­tu­re” star­ted in May 2022. The pro­ject con­tri­bu­tes to the fur­ther deve­lo­p­ment of com­pe­ti­ti­ve ara­ble far­ming. Spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, it is about water manage­ment and micro­cli­ma­te under an agri-pho­to­vol­taic system.

Methods for sus­tainab­le water manage­ment and water cycles are com­pa­red and opti­mi­zed to crea­te the pre­con­di­ti­ons for mini­mi­sing water con­sump­ti­on even during dry peri­ods. The phy­si­cal pro­tec­tion and par­ti­al shading of the cul­ti­va­ted area by the Agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tem, as well as with the help of a com­pre­hen­si­ve net­work of sen­sors, is inten­ded to enab­le irri­ga­ti­on in line with demand. In addi­ti­on, ero­si­on is to be redu­ced and the run-off of soil con­tai­ning nut­ri­ents into adja­cent water bodies is to be mini­mi­zed. A high­ly topi­cal issue in view of the advan­cing cli­ma­te change.

“Here Euro­pe invests in rural are­as with the mea­su­re: Euro­pean Inno­va­ti­on Part­ners­hip. This mea­su­re sup­ports coope­ra­ti­on bet­ween agri­cul­tu­re, the food indus­try and sci­ence. The aim is to imple­ment pro­jects that lead to inno­va­tions and a streng­t­he­ning of com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness in agriculture”.

Agri PV
Agri PV
Agri PV
Agri PV

Agri-Photovoltaics & Robotics Automatically to a careful cultivation.

Agri PV

Over the past deca­des, agri­cul­tu­re has expe­ri­en­ced signi­fi­cant incre­a­ses in yiel­ds, which were lar­ge­ly achie­ved through fer­ti­li­sers, bree­ding and the use of plant pro­tec­tion pro­ducts. Social­ly, howe­ver, the resul­ting loss of bio­di­ver­si­ty and envi­ron­men­tal degra­dati­on are no lon­ger accepted.

Poli­cy­ma­kers are respon­ding to this new situa­ti­on by con­ti­nuous­ly redu­cing or ban­ning the use of pesti­ci­des. The­re­fo­re, alter­na­ti­ves to clas­si­cal crop pro­tec­tion are urgent­ly nee­ded. Mecha­ni­cal or manu­al weed remo­val, as used in orga­nic far­ming, could be such an alter­na­ti­ve. Howe­ver, it requi­res more time and effort. This incre­a­ses pro­duc­tion cos­ts and redu­ces competitiveness.

The solu­ti­on is area-spe­ci­fic manage­ment with the help of digi­tal pro­cess tech­no­lo­gies — so-cal­led pre­cisi­on far­ming, for which plant-spe­ci­fic and envi­ron­ment-spe­ci­fic data are recor­ded and digi­tal­ly pro­ces­sed with the help of sen­sor tech­no­lo­gy. For examp­le, the nut­ri­ent con­cen­tra­ti­on and water con­tent in the soil, but also plant dise­a­ses and pests as well as weeds can be deter­mi­ned and stored with geo-refe­ren­ced information.

The goal of robo­tics rese­arch at Agro­So­lar Euro­pe is to deve­lop and imple­ment auto­ma­ti­on tools & machi­nes that are able to detect and effi­ci­ent­ly mecha­ni­cal­ly remo­ve weeds through AI-based detec­tion sys­tems. The struc­tu­re of Agro­So­lar Europe’s agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems offers the best con­di­ti­ons for this — and thus crea­tes the basis for tar­ge­ted, demand-ori­en­ted and effi­ci­ent cul­ti­va­ti­on of agri­cul­tu­ral land — com­ple­te­ly without chemicals!

Agri-Photovoltaics & Humus Research Nothing works in agriculture without fertile soil. 

In our deve­lo­p­ment cent­re in Trins (Aus­tria), we con­ti­nuous­ly rese­arch how healt­hy soil can be main­tai­ned and built up in the long term. Agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems play a cen­tral role in this. “The soil is the farmer’s most important asset — if the soil is healt­hy, the plants are healt­hy and if the plants are healt­hy, so are the ani­mals,” says Franz Hil­ber, far­mer and share­hol­der of Agro­So­lar Europe.

The pro­blem is well known: Agri­cul­tu­re that is too inten­si­ve or done incor­rect­ly deple­tes the top lay­er of the soil — i.e. the humus. Humus is the dark brown, airy soil that is crea­ted when ear­thworms, nema­to­des, fun­gi and bac­te­ria break down the remains of plants and ani­mals. It con­sists of more than 50 per­cent car­bon. In total, four times as much CO2 is stored in the earth’s soils as is cur­r­ent­ly pre­sent in our atmosphere.

When humus is des­troy­ed, the soil loses its mois­tu­re, lar­ge amounts of green­house gases escape and fur­ther dri­ve cli­ma­te chan­ge. With our accom­pany­ing rese­arch on agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems, we are the­re­fo­re deve­lo­ping a pro­cess that stops and even rever­ses the escape of green­house gases so that humus build-up can take place again in a tar­ge­ted man­ner. This not only bene­fits the cli­ma­te, but also far­mers who ope­ra­te an agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tem, as they can gene­ra­te addi­tio­nal inco­me by tra­ding the cor­re­spon­ding certificates.

Agri-PV Forschung Photovoltaik Humusforschung 020 für Agri PV

Agri-Photovoltaics & Species Protection New habitat and biodiversity

Spe­ci­es pro­tec­tion and bio­di­ver­si­ty play an important role in the expan­si­on of rene­wa­ble ener­gies. In the case of agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems, for examp­le, the ques­ti­on ari­ses as to what impact they have on bird­life in agri­cul­tu­ral land­s­capes. Do they limit the attrac­ti­ve­ness of the are­as used for bree­ding and fora­ging, or do they perhaps even pro­mo­te it? And what chal­len­ges might ari­se for farms in this context?

Tog­e­ther with our uni­ver­si­ty part­ners, we con­duct accom­pany­ing sci­en­ti­fic stu­dies around our sys­tems in order to gain sound know­ledge on this topic.

This invol­ves investigating:

  • Agro Ring
    what effect agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems have on field birds of all kinds. 
  • Agro Ring
    how agri-pho­to­vol­taic sys­tems influ­ence the attrac­ti­ve­ness of are­as for field birds and how this chan­ges over the cour­se of the year. 
  • Agro Ring
    what impact does bird use have on agri­cul­tu­ral crops. 
Agri PV
Agri PV