Renewable energy is in high demand. With fossil fuels and human activity depleting the planet, more and more people are switching to renewables to be more sustainable and save the planet.
One use of renewable energy that has increased over the years has been on farms. Farmers are integrating solar panels with their crops, known as agrivoltaics. They then use the energy from the panels to run their farm, and the crops easily grow beneath the panels.
Another way that the agricultural sector has embraced renewable energy is by eliminating the need for fossil fuels and reducing pesticide use at the same time. As the agricultural community continues to embrace these methods, fossil fuels could become a thing of the past.
Fossil Fuels Used for More Than Transportation Fuel
When people think of fossil fuels, the first thing that likely comes to mind is transportation fuel. Many vehicles on the roads today still rely on fossil fuels to operate. Besides using fossil fuels for most transportation vehicles, they’re used in processes to make items like paints, plastics, detergents and pesticides.
Already, pesticides are harming the environment if not used properly. Although they are not the worst option, they have damaged the ecosystems around them in numerous ways, such as polluting water sources, decreasing biodiversity and contributing to climate change.
In the process, the industries creating pesticides break the hydrocarbon bonds present in oils and natural gases. Once the process breaks the bonds into simpler compounds, they are reassembled into other molecules to make pesticides.
Additionally, there needs to be something that fuels the machines for this process, which is also fossil fuels. The question remains — can renewable energy reduce pesticides, then? If industries switch to renewable energy, would that mean that pesticides could no longer be produced?
Well, not technically. Scientists have found a way to use renewable energy for the same process. Renewable energy can split up molecules found naturally, like carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and water and then put those chemical molecules back together to continue to create products like pesticides.
It would be challenging for people in the agricultural industry and other sectors to give up their products made from fossil fuels altogether. Plus, the process still is not economically viable. Even though the reduction of pesticides likely won’t occur, this will reduce the need for fossil fuels, and therefore increasing renewable energy, which is much healthier for the environment.
An Increase in Solar Means a Decrease in Pesticides
There is a way, though, that renewable energy has reduced the use of pesticides. Andhra Pradesh, an agricultural center located in southern India, experiences many pests on their crops every year. The pests come in swarms and end up ruining valuable crops.
Pesticides no longer were working to solve the pest problem. Plus, when farmers did use pesticides, many pesticide-resistant insects ended up overtaking crops. One of those pests is the red-headed hairy caterpillar, which eventually turns into a moth.
Moths are naturally attracted to light, so farmers and innovators decided to use lights to attract the moths. Once drawn, they fall into a tub containing water and an additive that kills them, which doesn’t give them a chance to lay eggs in the crops.
However, power grids failed during heavier storms, and the issues with the moths didn’t entirely resolve. Instead of relying on the grid for electricity, farmers installed solar-powered lanterns, which proved to be much more effective. This method works with other pests as well, eliminating the need for pesticides that weren’t doing their job in the first place.
Reducing Pesticides With Renewable Energy
As the farming industry continues to use renewable energy and other integrated pest management, the need for pesticides will drastically reduce. This will create a more sustainable industry as well as providing hope for future generations of agricultural workers.