It is a fairly safe statement to say Jim Perdue and his chicken farms are the industry leader in innovation when it comes to chicken farming. The company always seems to be years ahead of the competition in terms of everything from safety to how humanely the chickens are treated when they are growing up. His latest innovation, however, has nothing to do with chickens and everything to do with pollinators.
It is estimated that roughly 75 percent of our food crops involve pollinators in one way or another. In some cases, such as almonds, crops are almost entirely reliant upon pollinators like the honey bee. In other cases, such as blueberries, pollinator activity means a better yield and a better-developed product. The next time you see a blueberry with a roundness closer to a dime than the end of your pen, give a nod to our favorite pollinator.
Perdue is now stepping up in a huge way to once again lead the way in the industry, hoping other poultry companies will take similar actions to help promote pollinator wellness. Steve Levitsky, vice president of sustainability for Perdue Farms, stated, “Given Perdue Farms’ long-standing commitment to being good stewards, having the area at our 5-acre solar field at our headquarters become a pollinator-friendly habitat was a no-brainer for us.
“There is a growing body of research that shows pollinator habitat can help increase yields of a variety of fruits and vegetables, including soybeans – one of the key components of a chicken’s diet – so we wanted to do something that has the potential to benefit the environment as well as the farmers near our headquarters.
“Additionally, the land directly under solar panels has traditionally been filled with gravel or grass, and the cost to create and maintain a pollinator habitat is roughly the same, so there’s no financial barrier to incorporating pollinator-friendly ground cover into the facility. Because of these benefits, we are planning to require pollinator-friendly ground cover at future company solar projects in order to provide even more benefits to the communities in which they are located. Asking for pollinator-friendly solar is a great way for electric utilities and corporations to ensure the solar energy they are buying does not result in negative tradeoffs.”
The new area dedicated to the pollinators will vary in plants from season to season, concentrating on flowing plants that will provide nectar for pollinators. From early spring to late fall, when pollinators are most active, there will always be a meal for them at Perdue Farms.