The interest in more sustainable solar sites continues to (yes, I’m doing it) grow. Pollinators are being added, vegetation is improving, and sheep are being deployed to eat that vegetation. Now it’s time to this all together and make sure those sheep are eating right too.
Ernst Conservation Seeds, the largest producer of native grass and wildflower seeds in the eastern United States, has partnered with both the Ernst Pollinator Service, a leader in establishing pollinators in all types of habitats, and the American Solar Grazing Association (ASGA), a non-profit trade organization devoted to promoting the grazing of sheep on solar installations, to develop the new Fuzz & Buzz Seed Mix and to (yup, doing it again) plant the idea of the solar pasture as a best practice.
The Fuzz & Buzz seed mix was developed to address the unique nutritional needs of sheep, while providing a low-growing, easily maintained and sustainable vegetation solution for solar installations. The plant species chosen for the mix were vetted by experts at the Cornell University Sheep Program for their palatability to sheep.
“What could be better than a seed mix designed for solar sites that is durable, intended for grazing and biodiverse enough to support a range of pollinator species,” said Lexie Hain, executive director of the ASGA. She continued, “This is the launch of the newest in solar: solar pastures. Thanks to Ernst Conservation Seeds and Ernst Pollinator Service for teaming up with the farmers at ASGA to create our first solar pastures seed mix.”
The diversity of grass and flowering species in the mix adds the ecological benefit of providing pollen and nectar sources for honeybees, native pollinator species, birds and other wildlife. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the mix will be donated to the ASGA in support of its mission.
“Our mission is to provide seeds that solve problems ecologically,” said Calvin Ernst, president of Ernst Conservation Seeds. “With the Fuzz & Buzz seed mix, we’re able to offer a three-part solution that minimizes maintenance for solar operators, provides an opportunity for sheep graziers who need additional pasture, and improves soil health and biodiversity for the benefit of pollinators and wildlife.”
A proponent of solutions that help landowners restore profitability to their grounds, Robin Ernst, president of Ernst Pollinator Service, said, “We embrace new and inventive ways for America’s farmers to make their land productive and profitable, sometimes in ways they might not have previously considered. Solar sites offer many landowners just such an opportunity on their property. The addition of grazing potential for sheep on these sites can multiply that profitability even further. And when those sites bring with them habitat for pollinators, it’s a winning proposition on many fronts.”
— Solar Builder magazine