Sustainability blooming at Perdue
SALISBURY, Md. – 41 different species of wild flowers are blooming at Perdue’s headquarters in Salisbury. “The thought process was plant it with pollinator habitat, and you’ll actually help the pollinators, and then if it’s adjacent to agriculture areas it also will increase the yields of those crops that are adjacent,” said vice president of sustainability Steve Levitsky.
The flowers were planted around solar panels two years ago to draw pollinators like bees to the habitat. “There’s been multiple studies done. USDA has done them and multiple universities have shown large yield increases. Soy bean you can see anywhere from 5 to 10%. The amazing thing to me was squash. They actually had a measurement of 72% yield increase,” said Levitsky.
This year is the first year the flowers have bloomed, and Perdue says they hope the pollinators drawn to the habitat will help surrounding agriculture. “Essentially 75% of the food that’s grown, and we eat has to be pollinated. So, essentially this has another positive besides just the soil health,” said Levitsky.
Levitsky also tells 47ABC that the habitat doesn’t just help surrounding farmers. It also strengthens the soil in that area. That will help to keep the soil useful if Perdue decides to remove the solar panels and use the land differently in the future. “In 25 years if this solar panel field is thought to be not sufficient and we want to take it down, we can pull the stakes up and you could actually plant that field again,” said Levitsky.
He also says that flowers were picked so that they would native to the area – and blooming most of the year. “They’re actually picked as they’re native. So essentially it’s going to be a native species. Not invasive. Also they’re picked to make sure there’s flowers throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” said Levitsky.
Levitsky says they hope the habitat will help local farmers for years to come. “We planted it in 2018 and here they are. So, it’s been pretty amazing. Just two weeks ago it was mostly green. There was a couple flowers here and there and just in the last week it’s just exploded. So, we’re excited to see in the weeks coming what comes up,” said Levitsky.