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Wednesday, April 11 • 2:45pm - 3:00pm
PROCESSES IN AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES: Examining the Potential Agricultural Benefits of Pollinator Habitat at Utility-Scale Solar Facilities in the United States

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AUTHORS: Leroy Walston*, Shruti Mishra, Heidi Hartmann, Ihor Hlohowskyj – Argonne National Laboratory; James McCall, Jordan Macknick – National Renewable Energy Laboratory

ABSTRACT: Of the many roles insects serve for ecosystem function, plant pollination is possibly the most important service directly linked to human well-being. However, global land conversion associated with agricultural intensification and energy development has paradoxically contributed to the decline of pollinator habitat and their populations. In agricultural landscapes that also support renewable energy developments such as utility-scale solar energy (USSE) facilities, opportunities exist to conserve insect pollinators and restore their ecosystem services through vegetation management approaches that aim to provide and maintain pollinator habitat at USEE facilities ("solar-pollinator habitat"). As a first step towards understanding the potential agricultural benefits of solar-pollinator habitat, we developed a broad-scale GIS-based approach to identify areas of overlap between USSE facilities and surrounding pollinator-dependent crop types. Our results indicate that there are over 3,500 km2 of agricultural land near existing and planned USSE facilities that may benefit from insect pollinators. The following five most abundant pollinator-dependent crop types account for over 90% of the agriculture near USSE facilities that could benefit from pollinator habitat at existing and planned USSE facilities: soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, almonds, and citrus. We also discuss how our results may be used to understand potential agro-economic implications of solar-pollinator habitat. Our results suggest the potential for ecosystem service restoration at USSE facilities which could improve the landscape compatibility of these and other large-scale renewable energy developments.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 2:45pm - 3:00pm CDT
Adams Room

Attendees (5)