Sheep flock to UQ’s Gatton solar farm

Move over mowers - UQ’s Gatton campus is shepherding a new solution for solar farm maintenance.

Sheep have been engaged to keep grass under control between the rows of 37,000 solar panels that make up the campus’s 3.275 megawatt solar research facility.

A core flock of 10 Merino wether sheep graze 4.5 hectares of the 11.5-hectare site, with the flock size varying depending on rainfall and the amount of feed available.

This area will soon be expanded by another 2.5 hectares, meaning that over 60 per cent of the site will be maintained by sheep instead of mowers.

The woolly workers are not only significantly reducing mowing costs, but are also directly benefitting the University’s teaching and research programs.

As part of the UQ School of Veterinary Science, the sheep will also take part in practical exercises for students and academics.  

According to UQ’s Manager of Energy and Sustainability Andrew Wilson, this strategy is also having a broader impact.

“This initiative demonstrates that agriculture and renewable energy can co-exist,” he said.

Mr Wilson says that as Australia rolls out more large-scale solar farms in years to come, this relationship will become increasingly important.

“By implementing this idea at the Gatton solar research facility, we’re hoping we can provide a model for other solar farms around the country.”


Last updated:
18 August 2016