Prairie Power: Can Solar Farms Help Restore America's Heartland?

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The US countryside is being transformed by renewable energy development, and solar power is at the forefront.

But what if solar farms could do more than just provide clean energy?

A new study suggests that they could also help restore America's iconic prairies.

Prairies once covered over a third of the US, but they have been decimated by agriculture and development.

Today, only about 5% of the original prairie remains. But solar farms could provide a new opportunity for prairie restoration.

Solar farms typically require large tracts of land, but they don't need to be completely cleared of vegetation.

In fact, growing native prairie grasses under solar panels can actually improve their efficiency by cooling them down. Prairie grasses also provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife.

The new study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, found that solar farms could support a wide range of prairie plants and animals.

The study's lead author, Dr. David Tilman, says that solar farms could play a major role in prairie restoration.

Solar farms are a new type of habitat that we can create on a large scale," he says. "And they're not just good for wildlife, they're also good for agriculture and climate change."

But there are challenges to prairie restoration on solar farms.

One challenge is rural opposition as people think their agricultural land will be taken away.

Another challenge is the cost of prairie restoration. It can be expensive to plant and maintain native prairie grasses.

Despite the challenges, Dr. Tilman believes that prairie restoration on solar farms is a viable goal.

"Prairie restoration is a win-win," Dr. Tilman says. "It's good for the environment, it's good for agriculture, and it's good for the economy."

What to expect next:

The study's findings are likely to spark renewed interest in prairie restoration on solar farms.

If more solar developers adopt prairie restoration practices, it could have a significant impact on the conservation of America's prairies.

What can you do:

If you are interested in supporting prairie restoration on solar farms, you can contact your local solar developers and encourage them to adopt prairie restoration practices.

You can also support organizations that are working to promote prairie restoration.

Solar farms is one of the potential solutions, let's implement it!