Perdue Farms has become the first poultry company to create a pollinator-friendly habitat throughout its solar installation, the company announced.
“Given Perdue Farms’ long-standing commitment to being good stewards, having the area at our 5-acre solar field become a pollinator-friendly habitat was a no-brainer for us,” said Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability for Perdue Farms.
Perdue constructed solar mills at the company’s corporate offices in Salibury, Maryland, and a feed mill in Bridgeville, Maryland, in 2011.
“Stewardship is one of our core values, so it fits how we do business. Using solar power means we’ll have a clean energy source that doesn’t pollute or create greenhouse gases, while lowering Perdue’s energy costs over the life of the project,” Levitsky said. “At peak production, the panels produce as much as 90 percent of the electrical demand for our HQ.”
Benefits of pollination
Three-quarters of the world’s food crops rely on pollination, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization. At the same time, the populations of many pollinators, including honeybees, are dwindling due to habitat loss.
Recent research from the Argonne National Laboratory revealed that the space surrounding solar panels could be an ideal location for plants that attract pollinators.
“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,” Levitsky added.
Perdue partnered with Fresh Energy, a catalyzer of pollinator-friendly solar, and the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, to plant 45 different varieties of flowering plants that bloom from early spring to late fall, including Black Eyed Susan, Alsike Clover, Sawtooth Sunflower, Narrow-Leaf Milkweed, Purple Coneflower and more. The plant species selected are low-growing, to keep from shading the panels, and deep-rooted, to be resilient in all kinds of weather.
The site meets all state of Maryland requirements to produce an “excellent habitat.”
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