Aside from producing renewable energy, wind turbines may have beneficial effects on crop growth.
Wind turbines harness energy from the wind blowing across the landscape. Usually, wind blows directly across the land, but the mere presence of a wind turbine changes the dynamics of the airflow – it creates turbulenece within the air. The turbulence increases airflow around the plants, and this is what researchers think is beneficial.
The results come from a months-long study examining the effect of wind turbines on surrounding crops. The study suggests that wind turbines may help corn and soybeans crops in the following ways:
- stay cooler and dryer
- help them fend off fungal infestations
- improve their ability to extract growth-enhancing carbon dioxide from the air and soil.
For example, in the summer, the sun heats up the plants, and too much heat can be damaging. The turbulence in the air takes away some of this heat from the plants, perhaps preventing them from wilting or otherwise becoming damaged. Likewise, the turbulence stirs up the air, mixing the oxygen the plants give off with the more CO2 rich air away from the plants. In this way, the wind turbines have the effect of “feeding” the plants with more CO2, which they need to survive.
This is only the first phase of the research on wind turbines and crops, and more research of the effect of microclimate on crops is expected.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by vaxomatic