Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Sheep are living their best life at Susquehanna University » Yale Climate Connections

Visitors to Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania might be surprised to find a flock of grazing sheep. But the animals provide more than a pastoral scene. They help maintain the college’s solar array by eating the grass and weeds that grow beneath and around it.

Owens: “One way or the other, you have to keep the grass down, the grass and the weeds, it’s amazing how tall they will get. I have pictures of weeds towering over solar panels, and anytime you shade a solar panel, you compromise the production.”

That’s Caroline Owens. She and her husband David keep part of their flock at the university from April until November.

She says grazing sheep have many advantages over traditional mowing.

Owens: “One of them is a philosophical advantage. You’ve put up this green energy production plant, and then it just flies in the face of what you’re doing to be mowing it with a gasoline-powered machine.”

She says the sheep also do a better job.

Owens: “They graze not only the grass, but they also get up to those I-beams and nibble the grass around the I-beams, which is where you would have to send somebody in with a weed whacker if you wanted it done that closely.”

So she says the growing solar industry provides new and exciting opportunities for shepherds.

Owens: “It’s something that’s such a natural fit.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media

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