Perdue Farms announces it has become the first poultry company in the United States to have pollinator-friendly ground cover at a company solar installation located at its headquarters in Salisbury, Maryland. The announcement coincides with World Environment Day on June 5, which celebrates biodiversity this year.
“Given Perdue Farms’ long-standing commitment to being good stewards, having the area at our 5-acre solar field at our headquarters become a pollinator-friendly habitat was a no-brainer for us,” said Steve Levitsky, VP of sustainability for Perdue Farms. “There is a growing body of research that shows pollinator habitat can help increase yields of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including soybeans — one of the key components of a chicken’s diet — so we wanted to do something that has the potential to benefit the environment as well as the farmers near our headquarters. Additionally, the land directly under solar panels has traditionally been filled with gravel or grass, and the cost to create and maintain a pollinator habitat is roughly the same, so there’s no financial barrier to incorporating pollinator-friendly ground cover into the facility. Because of these benefits, we are planning to require pollinator-friendly ground cover at future company solar projects in order to provide even more benefits to the communities in which they are located. Asking for pollinator-friendly solar is a great way for electric utilities and corporations to ensure the solar energy they are buying does not result in negative tradeoffs.”
A pollinator-friendly ground cover consists of a variety of flowering plants that provide food in the form of nectar and pollen in each growing season. It contains a mixture of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall so that flowers will be available when pollinators are active. The species were selected to be low-growing to keep from shading the panels, as well as deep-rooted to be resilient to periods of intense sun and rain.
To be a pollinator-friendly solar project in the state of Maryland, a facility must meet or exceed the minimum score set forth in the Solar Site Pollinator Habitat Planning and Assessment scorecard. The assessment includes the percentage of the site with flowering plants, the utilization of native plants, the number of different plants used, and the incorporation of blooming species through different seasons and more. Perdue Farms greatly exceeded the requirements for producing an “exceptional habitat.”
The company partnered with Fresh Energy, a catalyzer of pollinator-friendly solar, and the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, whose mission is to increase and improve pollinator forage and habitat via their NextGen Habitat Project pollinator-focused seed mixes. The mixes support some of the highest abundance and diversity of plants preferred by…
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