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Number of Sheep Increased to Boost Weeding Efficiency at Solar Plant (page 3)

Herbicide used proactively in areas with no sheep

2019/06/17 17:01
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Sheep number increased to graze more-than-expected amount of grass

The number of sheep was initially three, but increased to five later. This was because the grass grew more than expected and the three sheep could not eat it all at the pace it grew.

The sheep are not grazed across the entire mega-solar site combining the Phase 1 and 2 areas. Of the about 220,000m2 site, the sheep graze in about 15,000m2 of the Phase 1 area. Nikke has left plenty of green from the former golf course partly in consideration of the landscape and adopted the sheep for grazing in this area.

According to Nikke, it has discussed increasing the number of sheep to more than five. However, if the number of breeding sheep increases to more than five in Hyogo Prefecture, they will be considered as a "business," such as farming, not in the "pet" category. A higher level management structure and facilities will be required in that case, which will be too much of a burden for the mega-solar business. For this reason, the company limited the number of sheep to five.

Measures against weeds, including the sheep management, at the mega-solar plant have been entrusted to group company Nikke Fudosan KK (Kobe City). Even in the area where the sheep graze, weeding by hand is still required. For example, there are some kinds of weeds such as dokudami (chameleon plant) that the sheep dislike (Fig. 5). Also, the sheep will not eat grass which has tough ends or that grows longer than a certain level.

Fig. 5: Sheep dislike dokudami (chameleon plant) and tough grass. (source: Nikkei BP)