A few years after I moved to Vermont in 1974, I was talking with a local dairy farmer in his dooryard, and I said that I admired his new barn. His Vermont answer was classic. “That’s not a barn,” he said. “That’s an equipment shed.”
Oops. Okay. Since then, I’ve remembered the lesson. Cows are sheltered in a barn, while tractors are sheltered in an equipment shed.
While many Vermont dairy farmers are financially struggling, we still have plenty of active farms in Vermont—most of which have at least one barn and at least one equipment shed.
Ground-mounted arrays with tractors underneath
During a recent visit to France, I noticed lots of farms with relatively new equipment sheds. These newer buildings all looked alike. They were steel-framed buildings with steel roofing covered with photovoltaic (PV) modules. Clearly, a local company was promoting this style of building to farmers.
These equipment sheds were a cross between a photovoltaic shade structure—something you might see in a California parking lot—and a farm building.
Vermont farmers install photovoltaic arrays, too—but in Vermont, the photovoltaic arrays are usually on ground-mounted arrays that make the land unfit for agriculture.
The advantage of the French approach is that the photovoltaic arrays didn’t gobble up any agricultural land. When I stopped at a French farm to talk to a farmer about his equipment shed, I asked him how many years it would take for the investment to pay off. “After about 20 years, it’s paid for,” he told me.
What are these buildings called?
Once home in the U.S., I did some Googling to try to figure out what these French equipment sheds are…
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