A new solar farm near Ithaca has found an innovative and more environmentally-friendly way to keep its grass in check.
About 100 sheep will be spending the summer living inside the Nexamp Solar Farm that opened last fall in Newfield.
The flock comes from Agrivoltaic Solutions in Cortland.
From now until the fall, the sheep will eat the grass under and around the 23,000 solar panels spread across the 30-acre plot.
Nexamp Communications Manager Keith Hevenor says the sheep are cheaper than hiring a landscaper, don’t burn fossil fuels like a lawn mower and are safer for the equipment.
“It’s really a win-win, and it works on a lot of different levels. It allows a site like this to stay in agricultural production and it works well for the developer because the sheep do a great job at maintaining the vegetation.”
Fox says these are known as hair sheep because they’re raised for their meat rather than their wool.
Hevenor says this serves as a pilot project for Nexamp which is currently developing several other solar farms across Upstate New York.
“We don’t have the risk of machinery moving around in and amongst the panels, the polls, the wiring, things like that. The sheep pose no threat, they don’t like to chew on plastic or metal or glass or anything else. They’ll focus on the greenery and keep things nice and neat for us here.”
Lewis Fox is co-owner of Agrivoltaic Solutions.
He says the fence around the solar farm protects the sheep from predators and that the panels themselves provide them with shade from the sun and shelter from storms.