The findings are preliminary, but suggestive: researchers from Ames National Laboratory and the University of Colorado have compiled evidence that wind turbines sited on farmlands may actually help certain crops thrive even when weather conditions are less than ideal. If further study does reveal a definite connection, it marks a real turnaround in our approach to energy production, from a high-risk destructive venture to a more moderate activity that can enhance the surrounding environment instead of laying waste to it.
Fossil Fuels and High-Risk Energy
No matter how you cut it, there are no “bad old days” when it comes to harvesting fossil fuels, because we are living in them right now. In effect, the U.S. is under siege from the inside. Hundreds of mountains in Appalachia are being blown up for coal (a good deal of which is exported, by the way), water supplies are being poisoned for natural gas, and then of course there’s the Gulf oil spill and its aftermath. Clearly this kind of activity is not sustainable over the long run.
Wind Turbines and Crop Growth
The researchers found that wind turbines can create a kind of microclimate by channeling air over the ground. The result is a cooler, dryer environment that could help corn and soybeans avoid fungal infestations. The turbulence could also help crops stay cooler when a heat wave threatens to stunt their growth, and it could help make more carbon dioxide available for photosynthesis.
Wind Farms and Healthy Communities
The new 146-megawatt Farmers City Wind Power Project in Missouri is already proving that wind energy can create new green jobs, enhance the local tax base, and provide new income to local farmers, all without harming water supplies or other vital community resources. If the new research bears out, add a better crop yield to the list of wind energy benefits – and another reason to start leaving the bad old days behind us.
Image: Wind farm by brooklyn on flickr.com.
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