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Improved fleece on sheep grazed under solar panels

From The ABC

Sheep grazing under solar panels at farms in NSW's Central West have produced better wool and more of it in the four years since the projects began, according to growers.

Local graziers have labelled the set-up a "complete win-win", with the sheep helping to keep grass and weeds down so as not to obscure the panels.

In turn, the panels provided shade for the sheep and grass, and helped prevent the soil from drying out.

Wool broker Graeme Ostini, who has been grazing merino wethers at a solar farm near Parkes in a trial with the Parkes Show Society, said he had seen the benefits of running the animals under panels.

He said his sheep were slightly lighter stocked than the average in the district but were cutting an "amazing" amount of wool.

"It is actually quite astonishing. Some of the sheep look fantastic. They're growing exponentially and the wool cuts are in the top 5 per cent in the district."

He said he credited the good season and the solar panels for the improvement.

While Mr Ostini's sheep were lighter stocked than average, Dubbo farmer and grazier Tom Warren's were slightly higher.

Mr Warren leases part of his land to a solar farm and runs about 250 merino ewes and wethers on 54 hectares among the panels.

Like Mr Ostini, Mr Warren also reported impressive results.

He has not noticed an increase in wool quantity but said the quality had improved.

"It'll be because of the conditions the sheep are living in," he said.

"It's relatively clean, without burrs, without dust. There's very, very little contamination of the wool and they're protected from the sun as well."

Mr Warren said the carrying capacity of the land had also increased by about 25 per cent.

During the drought, water condensed on the solar panels in the mornings. The trickling of the water to the grass below keep strips of pasture green.

In all, he said by leasing his land to the solar farm and grazing his sheep there, his income had increased.

Mr Warren's sheep were able to graze almost all through the drought years thanks to condensation from the panels.(Supplied: Tom Warren)

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