Effects of above-canopy photovoltaic arrays on transpiration and energy production in a pear orchard

Battery and device collecting sap from a pear tree in an orchard

Agrivoltaics is a new integrated approach that has potential to simultaneously address agricultural and energy issues. This study evaluated the effects of shading from different configurations of photovoltaic arrays above the tree canopy on transpiration of pear trees.

The experiment was established in 2021–22 at the Tatura SmartFarm over a pear orchard (‘ANP-0118’ on BP1 rootstock, marketed as a Lanya™) with north–south row orientation. Trees were trained on Open Tatura trellis (i.e., V system). Two photovoltaic array treatments (two 1.05 m wide strips above each tree row) angled 45° and 5° to the horizontal and facing west, and a control treatment (no photovoltaic array above the canopy) were used in the experiment. The energy produced by photovoltaic arrays was monitored and sequentially directed to battery storage and the energy grid.

Agrivoltaic cells over a pear orchard

Transpiration was estimated from measurements of heat pulse velocity using four sap flow sensors, inserted in the north-, east-, south- and west-facing sides of the trunk. Sensors were installed in two trees in each treatment. Air temperature, relative humidity, vapour pressure deficit, wind speed, global radiation and diffuse radiation were monitored. Transpiration data was collected from flowering, through harvest to dormancy.

This abstract was submitted and poster presented to the X International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops — Stellenbosch, South Africa, 29th January to 2nd February 2023.

Poster – Effects of above-canopy photovoltaic arrays on transpiration and energy production in a pear orchard, PDF file


The experiment was funded by the Government of Victoria, Australia under the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan. The author acknowledges the valuable contributions of the Plant Production Sciences team at the Tatura SmartFarm.

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