Colorado Department of Agriculture Awards AFT-Led Team Agrivoltaics Grant - American Farmland Trust

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Colorado Department of Agriculture Awards AFT-Led Team Agrivoltaics Grant 

AFT Will Explore Benefits, Downsides, and Barriers to Agrivoltaics with State Producers 

(Washington, D.C.) Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) have announced a major investment in American Farmland Trust as part of the state’s inaugural funding for Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Grants, administered under the Department’s Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office. 

AFT, in partnership with Agrisolar Consulting, Colorado Open Lands, and Colorado State University Extension, will receive $100,000 to engage Colorado farmers and ranchers on agriculturally compatible solar development, a key strategy for and accelerating Colorado’s renewable energy transition and implementing Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Road Map.   

The first state funding of its kind, the CDA grant encourages research, demonstration projects, and outreach campaigns to further the integration of agricultural production and solar energy generation on the same piece of land (“agrivoltaics”) and strengthen Colorado’s agricultural economy. CDA funding is intended to help Colorado to build solar energy generation facilities integrated with agricultural activities, including crop production, grazing, animal husbandry, apiaries, and cover cropping to improve soil health.  

“AFT’s Smart Solar team is excited to work with the Department of Agriculture, Colorado Open Lands, and Colorado State University Extension to engage farmers and ranchers about agrivoltaics in Colorado,” said Austin Kinzer, AFT Agrivoltaics Senior Technical Specialist. “In the face of accelerating solar deployment across the United States, agrivoltaics is an innovative way to keep agricultural land in production and support farm viability. We applaud the state’s forward-looking investment in research, demonstration projects, and engagement with Colorado’s farming and ranching community. We hope our project in partnership with Colorado Department of Agriculture will ensure that farmers directly benefit from Colorado’s clean energy transition through better informed state policy and solar development practices that preserve farmland for future generations.”

AFT will coordinate a statewide survey and regional roundtables for Colorado producers to explore the benefits and obstacles to advancing agrivoltaics throughout the state. For the survey, the project team expects to contact 5,000 producers requesting their participation and information collected will help identify social, technical, and economic barriers to agrivoltaic adoption in Colorado and inform a set of recommendations for future research, policy, and educational resources. Qualitative insights from the eight roundtable conversations totaling 90 participants and quantitative data from the survey will be published in a final report and shared in a recorded webinar scheduled for June 2024. The project team will also produce and disseminate fact sheets on agrivoltaics for Colorado farmers and ranchers. 

“We view this outreach project as an opportunity to bring the voices of key agricultural stakeholder groups like Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Colorado Open Lands, and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to the forefront of the agrivoltaic conversation in the state,” said Thomas Hickey with Agrisolar Consulting. “Through this dialogue, we hope to find common understanding between agricultural producers and developers that will inform future policy and best practices for responsible agrivoltaic development in Colorado moving forward.”

“Colorado Open Lands is excited about the potential of agrivoltaics to bring renewable energy opportunities to Colorado, while supporting continued viability of working lands, and especially, new options to offset costs or increase income for farmers and ranchers,” said Sarah Parmar, Colorado Open Lands Director of Conservation.  “We appreciate this funding from the Colorado Department of Agriculture to work with great partners to center the voices of farmers and ranchers in the exploration of agrivoltaics.” 

Through Senate Bill 23-092, the Colorado state legislature appropriated $500,000 to distribute as agrivoltaics grants in Fiscal Year 2023-24 to support Colorado producers and help Colorado’s clean energy transition. These grants should “conduct a new or ongoing demonstration or research project as a means to study the potential, benefits, and tradeoffs of agrivoltaics in the state.”  


American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 7.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families. 


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