Solar energy vs. farmland

Solar and agricultural development appear at odds

As California devotes more land to solar energy projects, it is unclear what continued solar-power development could mean for agricultural production.

As farmers and solar developers are drawn to land with the same characteristics—flat expanses exposed to plenty of sunshine—agricultural interests, environmental groups and state officials are concerned there is no official accounting of how much land will be taken out of agricultural production in the southern San Joaquin Valley, according to The Associated Press.

Statewide, there are 227 solar projects pending approval as California works toward a mandate requiring 33 percent of its energy be drawn from renewable sources by the end of the decade.

The majority of proposed solar development is focused on Fresno, Kern, King and Tulare counties, where agriculture is a $30 billion industry that produces more than 400 crops.