Why use lawnmowers when farm animals can get the job done just as easily? We already know that Bayer Health rents sheep to graze grass on its Richmond, California campus, and Google made news a few months ago with its campus-grazing goats. Now comes word that Carolina Solar Energy in North Carolina is putting sheep to work on the grass in its new Parsons County solar park.
The 3,420 panel solar array is far from the state’s largest, but Carolina Solar Energy is using a unique method to make sure the panels stay efficient: weed-trimming sheep. The sheep gobble up weeds around the solar panels to keep them more receptive to the sun. Believe it or not, they’re more effective at trimming weeds than traditional landscaping equipment, as they can stick their necks out into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
There’s just one hitch–sheep produce less carbon dioxide than farming equipment, but their burps and farts are notorious for generating methane, a greenhouse gas that is far more potent than CO2. So the actual greenhouse gas savings are not as cut and dry as Carolina Solar might want to believe.
Still, the sheep in the North Carolina solar park serve to educate onlookers about alternative methods of weed-whacking. Richard Harkrader, Carolina Solar Energy’s owner, claims that people stop by the installation all the time–no doubt motivated in part by the wandering sheep.