Cooperation with Solar park Shell Moerdijk where we investigate how we can improve the park's insect-diversity by testing different seed mixtures sown under the solar panels.
Insects are declining in the Netherlands as their habitats decrease. With the upcoming energy transition, solar parks are an increasing presence in the landscape. As Pollinator Ecology research group we want to investigate how we can make these solar parks a suitable pollinator habitat and Shell Moerdijk provides us the opportunity to set up an experiment at their solar park. To make an area more attractive for pollinators we aim to create a flower-rich environment underneath the panels. Since the presence of solar panels may affect the ground level microclimate (less light, dryer soil and lower temperatures), it is not straightforward which flowering plants will grow well.
This year we started a study on a solar park of 30 hectares where more than 76000 solar panels are generating energy. The experiment contains 42 plots of 20 x 20 m where five different seed mixtures are sown.
Two students are working on the project this year. Masters student Laura Vriend will investigate the impacts of the solar panels on the local microclimate and if this may affect the nectar production of plants growing under the panels. HBO student Ilah de Haas will monitor which plants grow best and which pollinators they attract.