Papillion farmer installing solar panels says renewable energy is future of farming

(www.ketv.com)

It gives people a peek into the past and a look into the future of farming – with its rustic old barn located next to shiny new solar panels.

Tom Lundahl got a grant to buy used solar panels for his farm. The panels heat a 700-gallon water tank that powers a propagating bench for the farm’s hottest crop.

The aronia berry plants are a more potent and tart version of a blueberry and the demand for them has recently skyrocketed. Lunahl can’t fill all his orders for the berry plants.

The new solar hookup will allow the farm to grow more plants soon. Lundahl said that when the propagating bench is up and running, the farm will be able to grow 12,000 plants at a time on the bench.

“It tastes like a dry red wine. That’s what the astringency is, and it’s part of the antioxidants,” said Shami Lucena Morse.

Lundahl and Morse go to farmers markets to sell berries, smoothies – and succulent plants.

This solar project is new for Lundahl, but it’s not the first time he’s harnessed the sun.

“Thirty-five years ago, I built my first greenhouse on the front of an old farmhouse,” said Lundahl.

Lundahl said a lot of larger-scale operations are using renewable energy for things like powering irrigation pivots. He said up-front costs can be high, but they’re dropping as technology advances.

“It just makes economic sense. Any way you look at it, it comes down to dollars and cents,” said Lundahl.

He also said renewable energy makes sense for the future of the planet.

“This is something that will be the future. We just have to find a way to get there that makes the most sense,” said Lundahl.