Wind Turbines Might Help Crops Absorb More CO2, Fight Fungal Infections, Etc

wind turbines fields crops photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
Beneficial Microclimate Impact
According to the preliminary results from research done by DOE and University of Colorado scientists, wind turbines built in the middle of crop fields might be doing more than just producing electricity. Indeed, while the turbines don't produce any more air movement (in fact, they decrease it a bit because they absorb some of the wind's energy), they do create more air turbulence which "may speed up natural exchange processes between crop plants and the lower atmosphere." This, in turn, might create a bunch of positive effects like keeping crops cooler, dryer, less prone to fungal infections, and growing faster by extracting more CO2 from the air.

wind turbines fields crops photo

Photo: Flickr, CC
"Our laser instrument could detect a beautiful plume of increased turbulence that persisted even a quarter-mile downwind of a turbine," Lundquist said. [...]

"The turbulence resulting from wind turbines may speed up natural exchange processes between crop plants and the lower atmosphere," Takle said.

For instance, crops warm up when the sun shines on them, and some of that heat is given off to the atmosphere. Extra air turbulence likely speeds up this heat exchange, so crops stay slightly cooler during hot days. On cold nights, turbulence stirs the lower atmosphere and keeps nighttime temperatures around the crops warmer, potentially warding off early fall frosts and extending the growing season.

Other benefits of wind turbines could result from their effects on crop moisture levels. Extra turbulence may help dry the dew that settles on plants beginning in late afternoon, minimizing the amount of time fungi and toxins can grow on plant leaves. Additionally, drier crops at harvest help farmers reduce the cost of artificially drying corn or soybeans.

Another potential benefit to crops is that increased airflows could enable corn and soybean plants to more readily extract atmospheric CO2, a needed "fuel" for crops. The extra turbulence might also pump extra CO2 from the soil. Both results could facilitate the crops' ability to perform photosynthesis. (source)

wind turbines fields crops photo

Photo: Flickr, CC

But remember, these are only preliminary findings, so we'll have to wait for a bit more research to have confirmation and more quantitative data.

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Via DOE Pulse
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