Tag Archive for: Water Retention

The increasing pressure on land resources for food and energy production along with efforts to maintain natural systems necessitates the development of compatible land uses that maximize the co-benefits of multiple ecosystem services. One such land sharing opportunity is the restoration and management of native grassland vegetation beneath ground-mounted solar energy facilities, which can both protect biodiversity and restore related ecosystem services. In this paper, the researchers applied the InVEST modeling framework to investigate the potential response of four ecosystem services (carbon storage, pollinator supply, sediment retention, and water retention) to native grassland habitat restoration at 30 solar facilities across the Midwest United States. Compared to pre-solar agricultural land uses, solar-native grassland habitat produced a 3-fold increase in pollinator supply and a 65% increase in carbon storage potential. The researchers also observed increases in sediment and water retention of over 95% and 19%, respectively. They applied these results to project the potential benefits of adoption of native grassland management practices in current and future solar energy buildout scenarios. Their study demonstrates how multifunctional land uses in agriculture-dominated landscapes may improve the provision of a variety of ecosystem services and improve the landscape compatibility of renewable energy and food production. These findings may be used to build cooperative relationships between the solar industry and surrounding communities to better integrate solar energy into agricultural landscapes.