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科学美国人60秒:缅因州的这个农场一边种蓝莓一边采集太阳能

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Carey: I’m standing on a hillside. All around me are short shrubs with purple stems and waxy leaves. A brisk December wind moves through the lowbush blueberry bushes. But among the plants sits an odd sight… row after row of solar panels.

凯莉:我站在山坡上,周围都是紫色茎和蜡状叶子的短灌木,十二月的微风穿过低矮的蓝莓灌木丛。但在这些植物中,有一个奇怪的景象……一排排的太阳能电池板。

You’ve heard of solar farms. And you’ve heard of blueberry farms. But a solar-blueberry farm? Probably not–this is the first farm to combine the two sun harvesters. And that combo could be vital as the Earth’s climate changes.

你可能听说过太阳能农场,你也一定听说过蓝莓农场。但是太阳能蓝莓农场呢?可能不是这是第一个(可能不是)将两种太阳采集形式结合起来的农场。随着地球气候的变化,这种组合可能至关重要。

Reporting from the coast of Maine, I'm Teresa Carey, and this is Scientific American's 60-Second Science.

这里是《科学美国人》的60 秒科学,特蕾莎·凯莉缅因州海岸报道。

[Walking sounds]

[行走的声音]

Sweetland: In this area we've got the solar panels in among the blueberry plants. And up here, it's more open. We still have stone walls there and some rock piles, but most of the land is just opened for the blueberry production.

斯威特兰:在这个区域,我们在蓝莓植物中安装了太阳能电池板。在这里,更开阔。我们仍然有石墙和一些石堆,但大部分土地刚刚开放用于生产蓝莓。

Carey: When it comes to raising blueberries, Paul Sweetland has seen it all.

凯莉:谈到种植蓝莓,保罗·斯威特兰见多识广。

Sweetland: I've been doing blueberries basically my whole life. It's been amazing to see how we've changed our cultural practices over time.

斯威特兰:我一生都在做蓝莓。看到我们如何随着时间改变我们的文化习俗,真是令人惊讶。

Carey: Sweetland farms Maine's lowbush blueberries – the tiny wild berries the state is famous for. In fact, Maine is the only state in the country where wild blueberries are commercially harvested. You can buy them in grocery stores from Hawaii, to Texas, to Alaska. They’re about half the size of conventional blueberries, but with twice the antioxidants and even more flavor.

凯莉:斯威特兰种植缅因州的矮灌木蓝莓——该州以这种微小的野生浆果而闻名。事实上,缅因州是美国唯一一个商业采收野生蓝莓的州。在夏威夷、德克萨斯和阿拉斯加的杂货店都能买到它们。虽然它们的大小只有传统蓝莓的一半,但含有两倍的抗氧化剂,口味也更好。

Sweetland: Way back, probably 30 years ago, the pruning method was burning. So we used to come in and burn the whole field. Originally, we all used hand rakes. Now there are not so many hand rakes and because we won't be able to use some in here we have the tractor harvesters. There's still a lot of blueberries ready to rake by the hand but there's fewer people willing to work that hard.

斯威特兰:之前,大概是 30 年前吧,修剪方法就是燃烧。所以我们过去常常进来把整块地都烧了。最初,我们使用的是手耙。现在我们不使用手耙,但我们有了拖拉机收割机。仍然有很多蓝莓可以用手耙,但愿意这么努力工作的人少了。

Carey: Sweetland has tried every farming technique. He knows what works best. But for the 2022 harvest, things are going to be different. Last summer, David Dickey, the farm’s owner, partnered with BlueWave Solar to build an array of nearly 11,000 solar panels directly over top of his farm. They cover 12 of the 30 total acres.

凯莉:斯威特兰尝试了每一种农业技术。他知道什么最有效。但对于 2022 年的收获,情况将有所不同。去年夏天,农场主大卫·迪基与蓝波太阳能公司合作,在其农场顶部直接建造了近 11,000 块太阳能电池板阵列。30英亩的农场,有12英亩进行了覆盖。

Sweetland: It's just an interesting new challenge. Now that construction's done, now we can come in and do what needs to be done for the blueberries. Basically, what we're going to do is work between the rows.

斯威特兰:这是一个有趣的新挑战。现在施工已经完成,我们可以进来为蓝莓做需要做的事情。基本上,就是在一行一行的太阳板之间工作。

Carey: This unique farm is just one example of a burgeoning industry known as agrivoltaics -- placing solar panels on productive agricultural land. Pilot farms like this are springing up all over the country, hoping to show how collecting sunlight on farms might improve agriculture and offer farmers a second source of income. But, it is still too early to know how well it will work.

凯莉:这个独特的农场只是被称为农业光伏的新兴产业的一个例子——将太阳能电池板放置在多产的农业土地上。像这样的试点农场正在全国各地涌现,目的是展示如何在农场收集阳光可以改善农业,并为农民提供第二种收入来源。但是,现在要知道它的效果还为时过早。

Calderwood: We're trying to figure out exactly what it would take to shift from growing in a field landscape where there's no obstruction, it's just a big field of blueberries.

卡尔德伍德:我们正试图弄清楚,如何才能改变在没有障碍物的田野里种植蓝莓的现状。

Carey: Lily Calderwood is the University of Maine Extension’s expert in wild blueberries.

凯莉:莉莉·卡尔德伍德是缅因州大学推广部的野生蓝莓专家。

Calderwood: And then in this situation, there are rows of solar panels. So it's really shifting from a field crop to a row crop, which is a big shift to make.

卡尔德伍德:然后在这种有成排的太阳能电池板都情况下如何劳作。所以这是一种从农田作物到行列作物的转变,这是一个很大的转变。

Carey: Shading the plants and conserving water may potentially improve crop productivity. But no one knows for sure because it's never been done before. Calderwood is determined to find out.

凯莉:遮荫和保存水分可能会提高作物产量。但没人知道确切的答案,因为之前从未有人这么做过。卡尔德伍德决心找出答案。

She is heading a four-year research project, funded for the first year by Blue Wave Solar, to see if blueberries can thrive in the shade of a solar array.

她正在领导一个为期四年的研究项目,第一年由蓝色波浪太阳能资助,看看蓝莓是否能在太阳能电池板的阴影下茁壮成长。

Calderwood: This past year was the prune year, so no crop was harvested. And then next year, there will be a crop harvested. And the following year will be another prune year, then the fourth year would be another crop year. So ideally, we would have two crop seasons of data to collect, and a total of four years.

卡尔德伍德:去年是修剪年,所以没有收成。然后明年,就会有收成。接下来的第二年是又一个修剪年,然后第四年将是另一个作物年。因此,理想情况下,我们需要收集两个作物季节的数据,总共需要四年时间。

Carey: Calderwood is monitoring soil quality, moisture, and crop productivity at the farm. She hopes to create a new set of farming rules for power + produce marriage.

凯莉:卡尔德伍德正在监测农场的土壤质量、水分和作物生产力。她希望为电力和生产结合创造一套新的耕作规则。

Alan Knapp, an ecologist at Colorado State University, has already seen successful agrivoltaics projects -- in Colorado grasslands used for cattle grazing.

科罗拉多州立大学的生态学家艾伦·纳普已经看到了成功的农业光伏项目——在用于放牛的科罗拉多草原上。

Knapp: The first barrier to overcome is can it be done biologically? Can it be done physically? Can it be done? And then the next barrier would be adoption? How do you convince people who own the lands to be willing to change the way they've done things in the past, and integrate, for example, energy generation?

纳普:要克服的第一个障碍是可以通过生物学方法完成吗?可以通过物理方式完成吗?可以做到吗?然后下一个障碍是项目采用吗?如何说服拥有土地的人愿意改变他们过去的做事方式,例如能源生产?

Carey: Luckily for Sweetland, since blueberries aren’t grazing animals, bushes can’t bump up against and break solar panels.

凯莉:对斯威特兰来说幸运的是,因为蓝莓不是吃草的动物,所以灌木丛不会撞到太阳能电池板。

And recently climatic unpredictability is already a motivating factor. In 2020, Maine blueberry yields dropped by 50% because of frosts in May and June, followed by a statewide drought. For this farm, a second, reliable income stream could really come in handy.

而最近气候的不可预测性已经是一个推动因素。2020年,由于5月和6月的霜冻,缅因州的蓝莓单产下降了50%,随后全州出现干旱。对于这个农场来说,第二个可靠的收入来源真的可以派上用场。

But not everyone is on board.

但并非所有人都支持。

Calderwood: Some people feel that farmland should remain farmland. And why would we not put the solar panels on a building over a parking lot space that's already industrial?

卡尔德伍德:有些人认为农田就应该然是农田。为什么我们不将太阳能电池板放在已经工业化的停车场空间上方的建筑物上?

Carey: But solar panels require a lot of area to generate power and effectively replace fossil fuels. There must be many panels, tightly packed together to maximize energy output. They also require unrestricted access to the sun, which is not always possible in a populated area.

凯莉:但是太阳能电池板需要很大的面积来发电,并有效地替代化石燃料。必须有许多面板,紧密包装在一起,才能最大限度地提高能量输出。另外还需要不受限制地接触太阳,这在人口稠密的地区并不总是可行的。

Calderwood: Where rare we going to put all this energy? There's a lot of interest and motivation behind finding ways to have clean energy in Maine. So farmers and blueberry farmers have a place in that space. We're just trying to figure out where that might be.

卡尔德伍德:我们会把精力放在哪里?在缅因州,人们对寻找清洁能源的方法很感兴趣,也很有动力。所以农民和蓝莓农民在那里有一席之地。我们只是想找出太阳能电池板可能存在的地方。

Carey: Alan Knapp in Colorado would like to see more farmers give this approach a try. He says that if it works, it could be an important strategy to help the U.S. meet renewable energy goals.

凯莉:科罗拉多州的艾伦·纳普希望看到更多的农民尝试这种方法。他说,如果这个项目成功,它可能是帮助美国实现可再生能源目标的一项重要战略。

Knapp: You can use the scorched earth approach, where you just put the solar panels in as dense as you can to optimize energy generation and usage. The ecosystem underneath is not going to be valuable. Or you can try and integrate the two to maintain aspects of both. And I really think that's the future. We have the ability to co-locate energy generation and natural ecosystem services.

纳普:可以使用焦土法,只需将太阳能电池板尽可能密集地放置,以优化能源的产生和使用。下面的生态系统不会有价值。或者您可以尝试将两者结合起来以维护两者的各个方面。我真的认为这就是未来。我们有能力让能源生产和自然生态系统共存。

[Walking sounds]

[走路的声音]

Carey: Over the winter, Sweetland will check on the blueberry bushes from time to time, but the real work will begin this spring when he harvests the first crop grown under solar panels. When asked if he thinks the blueberries will thrive or even survive with the solar panels, Sweetland says…

凯莉:整个冬天,斯威特兰会不时检查蓝莓灌木丛,但真正的工作将在今年春天开始,他将在太阳能电池板下收获第一批作物。当被问及他是否认为有了太阳能电池板,蓝莓会茁壮成长,甚至存活下来时,斯威特兰说……

Sweetland: I'm not sure where I stand. Time will tell. (laughs)

斯威特兰:我不确定。时间会证明一切。(笑)

Thanks for listening. For Scientific American's 60-Second Science, I'm Teresa Carey.

谢谢收听。这里是《科学美国人》的6 秒科学,特蕾莎·凯莉报道。

Carey: I’m standing on a hillside. All around me are short shrubs with purple stems and waxy leaves. A brisk December wind moves through the lowbush blueberry bushes. But among the plants sits an odd sight… row after row of solar panels.

You’ve heard of solar farms. And you’ve heard of blueberry farms. But a solar-blueberry farm? Probably not–this is the first farm to combine the two sun harvesters. And that combo could be vital as the Earth’s climate changes.

Reporting from the coast of Maine, I'm Teresa Carey, and this is Scientific American's 60-Second Science.

[Walking sounds]

Sweetland: In this area we've got the solar panels in among the blueberry plants. And up here, it's more open. We still have stone walls there and some rock piles, but most of the land is just opened for the blueberry production.

Carey: When it comes to raising blueberries, Paul Sweetland has seen it all.

Sweetland: I've been doing blueberries basically my whole life. It's been amazing to see how we've changed our cultural practices over time.

Carey: Sweetland farms Maine's lowbush blueberries – the tiny wild berries the state is famous for. In fact, Maine is the only state in the country where wild blueberries are commercially harvested. You can buy them in grocery stores from Hawaii, to Texas, to Alaska. They’re about half the size of conventional blueberries, but with twice the antioxidants and even more flavor.

Sweetland: Way back, probably 30 years ago, the pruning method was burning. So we used to come in and burn the whole field. Originally, we all used hand rakes. Now there are not so many hand rakes and because we won't be able to use some in here we have the tractor harvesters. There's still a lot of blueberries ready to rake by the hand but there's fewer people willing to work that hard.

Carey: Sweetland has tried every farming technique. He knows what works best. But for the 2022 harvest, things are going to be different. Last summer, David Dickey, the farm’s owner, partnered with BlueWave Solar to build an array of nearly 11,000 solar panels directly over top of his farm. They cover 12 of the 30 total acres.

Sweetland: It's just an interesting new challenge. Now that construction's done, now we can come in and do what needs to be done for the blueberries. Basically, what we're going to do is work between the rows.

Carey: This unique farm is just one example of a burgeoning industry known as agrivoltaics -- placing solar panels on productive agricultural land. Pilot farms like this are springing up all over the country, hoping to show how collecting sunlight on farms might improve agriculture and offer farmers a second source of income. But, it is still too early to know how well it will work.

Calderwood: We're trying to figure out exactly what it would take to shift from growing in a field landscape where there's no obstruction, it's just a big field of blueberries.

Carey: Lily Calderwood is the University of Maine Extension’s expert in wild blueberries.

Calderwood: And then in this situation, there are rows of solar panels. So it's really shifting from a field crop to a row crop, which is a big shift to make.

Carey: Shading the plants and conserving water may potentially improve crop productivity. But no one knows for sure because it's never been done before. Calderwood is determined to find out.

She is heading a four-year research project, funded for the first year by Blue Wave Solar, to see if blueberries can thrive in the shade of a solar array.

Calderwood: This past year was the prune year, so no crop was harvested. And then next year, there will be a crop harvested. And the following year will be another prune year, then the fourth year would be another crop year. So ideally, we would have two crop seasons of data to collect, and a total of four years.

Carey: Calderwood is monitoring soil quality, moisture, and crop productivity at the farm. She hopes to create a new set of farming rules for power + produce marriage.

Alan Knapp, an ecologist at Colorado State University, has already seen successful agrivoltaics projects -- in Colorado grasslands used for cattle grazing.

Knapp: The first barrier to overcome is can it be done biologically? Can it be done physically? Can it be done? And then the next barrier would be adoption? How do you convince people who own the lands to be willing to change the way they've done things in the past, and integrate, for example, energy generation?

Carey: Luckily for Sweetland, since blueberries aren’t grazing animals, bushes can’t bump up against and break solar panels.

And recently climatic unpredictability is already a motivating factor. In 2020, Maine blueberry yields dropped by 50% because of frosts in May and June, followed by a statewide drought. For this farm, a second, reliable income stream could really come in handy.

But not everyone is on board.

Calderwood: Some people feel that farmland should remain farmland. And why would we not put the solar panels on a building over a parking lot space that's already industrial?

Carey: But solar panels require a lot of area to generate power and effectively replace fossil fuels. There must be many panels, tightly packed together to maximize energy output. They also require unrestricted access to the sun, which is not always possible in a populated area.

Calderwood: Where rare we going to put all this energy? There's a lot of interest and motivation behind finding ways to have clean energy in Maine. So farmers and blueberry farmers have a place in that space. We're just trying to figure out where that might be.

Carey: Alan Knapp in Colorado would like to see more farmers give this approach a try. He says that if it works, it could be an important strategy to help the U.S. meet renewable energy goals.

Knapp: You can use the scorched earth approach, where you just put the solar panels in as dense as you can to optimize energy generation and usage. The ecosystem underneath is not going to be valuable. Or you can try and integrate the two to maintain aspects of both. And I really think that's the future. We have the ability to co-locate energy generation and natural ecosystem services.

[Walking sounds]

Carey: Over the winter, Sweetland will check on the blueberry bushes from time to time, but the real work will begin this spring when he harvests the first crop grown under solar panels. When asked if he thinks the blueberries will thrive or even survive with the solar panels, Sweetland says…

Sweetland: I'm not sure where I stand. Time will tell. (laughs)

Thanks for listening. For Scientific American's 60-Second Science, I'm Teresa Carey.


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