Solar-powered irrigation pivot in Nebraska is first in North America, companies say

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Irrigation pivots are often shut off when the heat of the summer puts a strain on local power grids.

To help the strain, Valley Irrigation and Farmers National on Monday unveiled solar-powered ag irrigation in Davenport, Nebraska.

They say it is the first such installation in North America.

Farmers National installed the pivot on the farm of a client with similar goals on sustainability, environmental impact and efficiency.

“Knowing that the landowner is aligned with our goals, conservation and sustainability in the land management area, we went to them pitched the idea, and they were on board with it,” said Matt Gunderson, Farmers National vice president of strategy, sales and marketing. “They worked with us and through Valley to then purchase and get the installation installed.”

The idea is for the pivot to offset the energy it uses. The energy it generates from the sun is looped into the local power district grid to then be used to power the pivot. Landowners can then sell the excess power back to the utility.

“Especially when you’re talking summertime heat that we have, the strain of being shut down is on pivots because of that,” Gunderson said. “This can create that local generation within the community for things to be able to help offset that energy grid balance, and that demand perspective, so we can be able to help meet those needs right here, locally.”

Valley said the solar panels installed are the highest-quality and most efficient options on the market. They were built with Nebraska weather in mind, capable of withstanding strong winds and hail.

The pivot will produce renewable energy for the next 25 to 35 years, Valley said, equaling its lifespan.

Farmers National hopes this idea creates more jobs as it works to limit the environmental impact of farming.

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