Application of organic photo-voltaic films on fruit trees: a proof of concept for a self-sustainable orchard

G. Bortolotti, L. Manfrini, D. Pontara, M. Bertoldi, A. Boini, G.D. Perulli, K. Bresilla, C. Rossi, L. Corelli Grappadelli
This preliminary study investigated innovative materials as organic photo-voltaic (OPV) plastic films for application in orchards. OPV, if placed above the hail net structure, might allow the orchard to become an energy source and to reduce its environmental impact. Moreover, thanks to their shading effect, OPV strips can reduce water needs of trees, enhancing orchard water use efficiency. This technology could facilitate the adoption of precision orchard management (POM), thanks to the availability of electrical power in the field, which may ease the use of sensing technologies. A small mock-up (about 12 m long) of an orchard row was built out of steel tubing, to support a standard hail net on either side of a single row of potted, 1-year-old apple trees. OPV materials were laid upon the hail net in 3 configurations (90, 60 and 30% of the hail net surface covered). Generation of electricity and plant physiological parameters were recorded. Only 90% coverage with OPV materials affected plant performance significantly, while no differences were found at 30 and 60% coverage, in respect to control (hail net only). The generation of electricity was low, due to low efficiency of conversion of the materials used. We are expanding this work by creating multi-function covers, that combine hail, rain, insect, light protection while generating electricity.
Bortolotti, G., Manfrini, L., Pontara, D., Bertoldi, M., Boini, A., Perulli, G.D., Bresilla, K., Rossi, C. and Corelli Grappadelli, L. (2021). Application of organic photo-voltaic films on fruit trees: a proof of concept for a self-sustainable orchard. Acta Hortic. 1314, 205-210
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1314.26
energy co-production, GhG emission, precision orchard management, sustainable production, innovation in fruit growing

Acta Horticulturae