LAZY GRAZERS: Sheep grazing at the UQ Solar Farm at Sladevale.
LAZY GRAZERS: Sheep grazing at the UQ Solar Farm at Sladevale.

Future of farming under way at UQ solar farm

More than 500 new woolly inhabitants are proving renewable and agricultural farming can operate side-by-side at UQ's Sladevale solar farm.

The world-first 64 megawatt solar farm opened up its gates to sheep around Christmas with more arriving last month.

The plan to use the farm as an agistment paddock had always been in the blueprint of the $125m project but Facility Manager Don Drane said he was pleased to see the vision come to life.

Mr Drane said it was based off a smaller UQ Gatton solar farm that had been running sheep simultaneously for six years.

"There's good water, good feed and good shelter - it's sheep heaven," he said.

"We had the design incorporate dog-proof fencing from day one.

"The solar panels give them shade as well. You will see them in middle of the day congregate in a line under the shade of the panel."

With a steady dam and bore supply and "plenty of feed" thanks to recent rain, Mr Drane said the agisted sheep had even welcomed new lambs onto the site.

Sheep grazing at the UQ Solar Farm at Sladevale.
Sheep grazing at the UQ Solar Farm at Sladevale.


It comes as the Warwick solar farm provides input to a Clean Energy Council report on how agriculture and solar farming can work together.

While the issue of using prime grazing land for panels has been heavily debated, Mr Drane said the Warwick experience proved the two weren't mutually exclusive.

"It is real proof the two can coexist," he said

"We have stock facilities to muster for animal health, treat them and tag them.

"What we've got here is the best practice in the world for sheep handling on a solar farm."

The Sladevale operation, which officially opened in 2020, can power 160 gigawatt hours and offsets 100 per cent of the university's electricity use.


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