Counting Sheep — and Shepherds

Counting Sheep — and Shepherds

Silicon Ranch’s agrivoltaics success depends on lots of sheep, highly qualified shepherds, and building long-term relationships of trust

Posted by Chris Ann Lunghino | April 29, 2022

With over 12,500 acres in our 2022 agrivoltaics portfolio and approximately 1,000 sheep in our company-owned flock, Silicon Ranch is the leading utility-scale agrivoltaics operator in the U.S. Our ongoing success in the marriage of clean energy generation and regenerative agricultural production on one piece of land depends on creativity and collaboration, building long-term relationships of trust, highly qualified shepherds, and lots of sheep.

That’s why we’re grateful for our committed farmer and rancher partners and agrivoltaic technicians. And that’s also why we’re thrilled about the most recent additions to our growing extended team.

Our agrivoltaics success depends on creativity and collaboration, building long-term relationships of trust, highly qualified shepherds, and lots of sheep

Thanks to the hard work and loving care of two of our valued shepherd partners, Trent Hendricks of Cabriejo Ranch and Trey Lawrence of Tall Oaks Farm and Land Management, we recently welcomed approximately 200 newborn lambs to our Providence Solar Ranch in Denmark, Tennessee.

These lively, limber, soon to be land-nurturing lambs may never meet their Georgia-born cousins, whose birth we celebrated a couple of weeks ago, but they’ll make a similar mark on the world by being a part of Regenerative Energy.

Regenerative Energy solar ranches employ shepherds and sheep to benefit everyone and everything involved – people, animals, environment, and economies

Our climate-smart Regenerative Energy solar ranches, which marry clean solar energy generation with regenerative land management practices, will employ these lambs, along with an intentional, holistic approach to managing their grazing, to benefit everyone and everything involved – people, animals, environment, and economies — including agricultural economies.

We launched Regenerative Energy at our Providence Solar Ranch in April 2019 to fulfill our commitment to being a good steward of the land, returning the long-time conventional cotton and grain farm to agricultural production. Since then, the ranch has provided food and shelter for the sheep, an additional revenue stream for local ranchers and farmers, and a contribution to the supply of grass-fed meat that is increasingly popular in the U.S.

In the same three years, our hooved friends have naturally fertilized the land and trampled plenty of hay and seeds into the soil, strengthening root networks and restoring the health of the system that removes carbon from the atmosphere, ultimately storing some of that carbon back in the soil where it belongs.

As a result, the dirt with patchy vegetation that we inherited when we purchased the land is now living soil, sporting plenty of vegetative cover and a nice diversity of plant species. Regenerative land management has also led to the creation of pollinator and ground-nesting bird habitat and quantifiable increases in critter biodiversity. Ant mounds, rabbits, meadowlarks, and red-tailed hawks, we welcome and celebrate them all!

We measure and third-party verify our outcomes

Silicon Ranch is committed to tracking and measuring these impacts. We measure and third-party verify our ecological outcomes, including outcomes in biodiversity, soil health, and ecosystem function, using the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Ecological Outcome Verification methodology. This was developed in collaboration with leading soil scientists, economists, and agronomists, and an extensive network of regenerative land managers around the world.  In both 2020 and 2021, the Savory Institute certified the land housing the Providence Solar Ranch as regenerative, applying the Ecological Outcome Verification  methodology.

Silicon Ranch’s successful first lambing season resulted in part from the relationships of mutual trust and respect we’ve built with our partners and team members, and the empowering, ongoing collaborative process in which we engage together.

Learn more about how Silicon Ranch builds lasting and transformative relationships of trust with partners, staff members, communities, and the land it owns to make solar do more through the story of Tyler Menne, long-term Silicon Ranch partner and regenerative rancher who manages the land at our Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Ranch.

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