Wind turbines in farms not only capture renewable energy but may also help crops grow more efficiently , a new study has found.
Wind turbines disbursed throughout a field create air turbulence that might help plants by affecting variables such as temperature and carbon dioxide concentrations, said Gene Takle, a professor at Iowa State University in the United States.
For the study, scientists installed research towers on a 200-turbine wind farm to discover how the turbulence created affected conditions at ground level.
The data showed wind turbines can change the temperature in the areas around them. It also showed that turbulence produced by wind turbines leads to temperatures about a half degree cooler during the day and between a half to a full degree warmer at night.
Takle said that wind turbines might make growing conditions more favorable for corn and soyabeans. “On balance, it seems turbines have a small, positive impact on crops,“ he said.
That is because the turbulence mixes air at different elevations. That mixing cools the ground level during the daylight hours, like a fan blowing on a wet surface. At night, as the ground loses heat, the mixing brings warmer air aloft down to ground level, resulting in a net warming effect. The turbulence also suppressed the formation of dew and dried the crops, Takle said, which could combat harmful moulds and fungi.
The turbulence, and the associated changes in air pressure at ground level, also might enrich the carbon dioxide content in the air surrounding crops, which could make the plants grow more efficiently, he said.
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