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Building Solar on Farmland in Ontario

Mar 10, 2016

Cow Cooling Station
Photo: One of SolarShare's Dual-Axis Trackers on Manitoulin Island

We are strong supporters of protecting our farmland in Ontario. Groups like the
Ontario Farmland Trust and the Greenbelt Foundation work incredibly hard to ensure that precious agricultural land in Ontario is preserved for growing food and nurturing our natural landscape.

Many people ask us about building solar installations on agricultural land. Specifically, are we taking up space that could be used to grow food?

The answer: No. Here’s why:

In order to build solar installations on farmland in Ontario, the Ministry of Energy, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs require that the soil be unsuitable for agriculture. Over the course of many decades, the soil has been tested throughout the province. A classification system was created, indicating the types of land which do and do not facilitate the growth of crops. Classes 1, 2, and 3 are considered prime agricultural land and classes 4 through 7 indicate land that “has severe limitations that may restrict its agricultural capability.”

Solar can only be developed on land that does not feature organic soil and/or is classified as 4 or higher as per the Ministry regulations. Landowners must have the soil on their land evaluated before solar systems can be installed. The full guidelines of the protocol can be found on the government of Ontario’s website.

Developing solar on farmland that can’t yield produce is a great way to utilize available space for clean energy, and for farmers to earn extra income. SolarShare owns 17 dual-axis trackers located on suitable farmland throughout North Western Ontario and Manitoulin Island. You've probably passed by some of them in your travels!