Wind Turbines may improve crop growth

Northwest Iowa windfarm. Photo via mccmicb, Flickr

Wind turbines that dot Iowa’s landscape may help corn and soybeans grow faster and healthier, according to research by ISU professor Gene Takle.

The Des Moines Register reports:

Gene Takle, an ISU professor of geological and atmospheric science, said it appears turbines may help crops grow healthier and faster by moderating ground level temperatures, blowing away fungi-producing moisture and churning the air to expose plants to more growth-promoting carbon dioxide.

Takle presented the findings last week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

“This is an issue no one has raised before,” said Takle. “When people do impacts of wind turbines, they think about four things. They think about birds, bats, noise and radar interference. They really don’t consider impacts on the environment.”

But Takle and University of Colorado researcher Julie Lundquist did just that.

Last summer, Takle collected surface measurements of wind fluctuation, temperature changes and carbon dioxide levels from fields adjacent to turbines, while Lundquist used a special laser to determine that wind turbines create a plume of turbulence that can be measured up to a height of 250 feet and a quarter-mile downwind.

The next step is to design research capable of quantifying any impact the turbines have on crop growth, said Takle, who is also an agriculture meteorology expert with the Ames Laboratory….

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