Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Solar Powered Livestock Watering System (ST7252-1)

Finger Lakes Conservation &


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Cornell University recommend that a water source should be within 500 feet of animals grazing on pasture. To avoid degradation of surface waters leading to erosion and sedimentation, livestock need to be redirected to troughs or reservoirs. Pumps are needed to fill those troughs, but pastures are often locate far from power lines, and gasoline-powered pumps are maintenance- and labor-intensive. Solar powered pumps are now available on the commercial market, but technical assistance needed to install them has been limited. This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of on-farm water pumping via renewable energy on eleven farms, as well as disseminate information on renewable water pumping to other members of the dairy and livestock community throughout New York State,especially farms striving for sustainability.

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Project Description

The primary goal was to educate farmers regarding solar powered livestock watering systems and explain how those systems, in conjunction with prescribed grazing plans, can protect the environment and improve water quality.


Farms will be able to decrease their off-site dependency on electricity and fuel, as well as inorganic fertilizers. In addition, proper pasture management improves herd health, resulting in lower incidence of mastitis and hoof problems. Prescribed grazing systems benefit the environment and reduce associated costs to society by diminishing erosion and sedimentation, which improves water quality, fisheries, and wildlife habitat.

Project Results

Objectives were to: 1) install 11 solar powered livestock watering systems within Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates Counties; 2) evaluate the potential of using wind power as an alternative or supplement on one or two of those 11 farms; 3) collect data from participating farms and incorporate that data into the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dairy Farm Business Summaries; and, 4) hold 10 workshops, conduct four on-farm tours, and disseminate the data and information regarding the advantages of solar powered watering systems to other livestock producers and the agri-business community throughout New York State. The objectives were later changed to have 10 systems installed, and an additional 11th workshop was held. Though wind power was evaluated as an option, it was not installed at any of the sites. Solar water pumping systems are being sold in New York State without subsidies. A technical guide was created for farmers to use. This popular guide was reprinted in 2006.


Finger Lakes Conservation &
Development Council, Inc. 415 West Morris St.
Bath, NY 14810

Principle Investigator

Dick Winnett

Universities Involved

Cornell University


Project Type:

Product Demonstration

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Judy Jarnefeld


R&D - Environment & Energy Res

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST7252-1

Last Updated: 2/10/2014