Lightsource bp’s Nittany Solar projects in Pennsylvania is a solar farm with a living, breathing ecosystem complete with soil microbes, vegetation, insects, wildlife and, in some cases, domesticated livestock. Solar developers, landowners, and scholars want to learn more about the ecology and economics of these sites so they can determine best practices for maximizing the sustainable benefits of solar. In recent years, the environmental management of solar farms has become an exciting area of academic research, to assess how different practices affect the productivity of solar and agricultural enterprises and the land on which they operate.Two studies seeking to answer research questions around these topics are currently underway at Lightsource bp’s Nittany 1, 2 and 3 solar projects in Pennsylvania. The projects, totaling 70MW altogether, are operational in Franklin County. They are powering 25% of Penn State University’s state-wide electricity needs under a 25-year power purchase agreement. All three sites were designed and are being actively managed to boost biodiversity and support pollinator populations, in addition to generating clean energy for Penn State and their students. Lightsource bp seeded the sites with a mix specifically formulated by the American Solar Grazing Association, in partnership with Ernst Conservation Seeds and Pollinator Service.The seed mix, aptly named Fuzz and Buzz, was designed to support pollinator species at solar sites, in addition to flocks of sheep. At Nittany 1, more than 700 sheep are managing vegetation through rotational grazing, an example of agrivoltaics, or co-located solar and agriculture. Vegetation grows under and around the panels on solar farms in Pennsylvania to promote healthy soil.Researchers from the Shippensburg University Geography & Earth Science Department are conducting research at Nittany 1, 2 and 3 to learn how converting farmland to solar fields affects soil properties, carbon dynamics and biodiversity. Dr Russell Hedberg and Dr Claire Jantz are leading the inquiry into the nexus of ecosystem services, future food production, and renewable energy needs. Their study asks three questions. The research team has mapped soil type, slope and variation across all three sites using the USDA-NRCS gridded Soil Survey Geographic Database. To assess soil health, researchers will collect data in the field as well, measuring organic carbon, the abundance of soil-dwelling organisms, soil stability and soil compaction in collected samples.Funding from the Renewable Energy Wildlife Institute is supporting this project.