A study done by Iowa State University shows that turbulence created from wind turbines can help the growth of corn and soybean crops by affecting temperature and carbon dioxide levels.
Distinguished Professor of agronomy and geological and atmospheric sciences, Gene Takle, led the research team that installed research towers at a wind farm between Iowa and Colorado. The project was to determine how the turbulence of wind turbines affects crops at ground level. They collected data like wind speed, wind direction, temperature, humidity, turbulence, gas content and precipitation over a 3 year period from 2010-2013.
According to Takle, the data shows a measurable level of impact on key variables that affect growing conditions of crops, namely corn and soybeans.
Takle said, “On balance, it seems turbines have a small, positive impact on crops.”
According to the data, wind turbines affect the temperature of air around them, creating a cooler temperature by about a half a degree during the day and a warmer temperature between half and a full degree at night. According to the report: ‘That’s because the turbulence mixes air at different elevations. That mixing cools the ground level during the daylight hours, like a fan blowing on a wet surface, Takle said. But at night, as the ground loses heat, the mixing brings warmer air aloft down to ground level, resulting in a net warming effect.’
Takle said, “The next step would be to answer if this turbulence changes biomass uptake of plants, or if it affects plant size or functions or yield,” he said. “It’s going to be much harder to find those answers because of all the other factors at play in a field, such as variations in soil quality or precipitation.”