Solar farms helps our ecosystem

Adrienne SorensenAugust 23, 201815060

Solar farms helps our ecosystem 

When bees gather pollen and nectar for their hives, they pollinate flowers, ensuring that plants reproduce fruit and other products. They pollinating almost 75% of human food crops globally yet we place stress on insect pollinator habitats with pesticides, land development, altered hydrologic patterns, and further actions. Due to this, insect species have declined drastically. Extinction of these insect species could have global scale results; wiping out crops, increasing food production prices, and make concessions for our nutrition.

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, are researching methods to apply pollinator-friendly solar power to reinvigorate pollinator domains. By fully understanding solar energy facilities with pollinator habitats on site, they strive to rehabilitate pollinator populations. Bees play a vital role in  agricultural industries, plant species, and thriving pollinator numbers.Experts began creating strategies to sustain pollinator species in the expansion of human population. A need exists to improve the landscape sustainability of large-scale solar projects to prevent or minimize potential influence to agriculture, cultural, ecological, and additional natural resources. With goals to conserve habitat, sustain ecosystem function, and encourage  human land uses in the landscape, researchers in Argonne’s Environmental Science (EVS) division discovered the area near solar panels could be an ideal location for plants that attract pollinators. This study focused on understanding the environmental advantages of pollinator domains, like water conservation, land management, and carbon dioxide decline.

Solar-pollinators are ecological advantages

Utility-scale solar energy (USSE) developments are increasing in agricultural landscapes, specifically on prior crop fields. Interest in on-site vegetation management approaches to USSE farms is rising which can restore ecosystem balance like crop pollination.
Recent importance has been  on the development and maintenance of pollinator habitats at USSE facilities. “Pollinator habitats” is the practice of planting seed mixes of regional native plants near  the renewables infrastructure footprint after construction. All forms of solar-pollinator domains could improve the biodiversity and ecosystem capabilities when compared to traditional USSE vegetation practices. Solar-pollinator areas and related activities give ecological advantages for pollinators and non-pollinators: minimal mowing, no pesticide applications, and planned seed sowing to attract pollinators. 


Solar-sited pollinator habitats benefits agriculture

The Argonne researchers studied the possible benefits of creating pollinator areas at USSE facilities to conserve pollinators and restore the ecosystem. Evaluating over 2,800 USSE facilities, it’s been determined solar-sited pollinator habitat could benefit agriculture. The experts located over 3,500 square kilometers of agricultural land near existing and planned USSE facilities that could be advantageous for rehabilitation and assist reinstating the decrease of the pollinator population. By multiplying the capability of pollinators to pollinate near agricultural fields, solar-sited pollinator homes could boost farmers’ crop yields and develop companion income revenues to neighboring agricultural farms. Rejuvenating local pollinator habitat is one way farmers lease land for arrays. This practice has proven more lucrative to them than cash crops.

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