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Great Plains Agroforestry: Evaluation of Bioenergy Feedstock and Carbon Sequestration as Potential Long-Term Revenue Streams to Diversify Landowner Income

This project will evaluate the potential of agroforestry plantings to provide bio-based feedstock, income, investment, and carbon sequestration opportunities in four Great Plains states.  Focus groups and surveys will provide practical feedback on relevance of data for adoption, practices, and education material content and focus.  A survey of owner/operators of identified marginal land in a case-study region will gauge farmer interests, concerns, and income thresholds.  Using regional yield assessments, per ton feedstock break-even points will be calculated to predict minimum gate income for feedstock production.  Economic assessment will be complimented by field results with full-cost accounting of potential woody biomass systems.  A crop productivity index will be adapted to identify the distribution of soils that are marginal for crop production but suitable for tree growth.  These ratings and results from the focus groups and surveys will be used to identify the most relevant tree species and soils for sampling.  Existing agroforestry plantings (field windbreaks and riparian buffers) will be selected for field sampling, with two locally-representative multispecies plantings studied per state.  A novel technique for estimating aboveground biomass will be tested and used to adjust forest-based biomass estimates for agroforestry practices using the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s COMET carbon management tool.  Soil samples from transects across each planting will be used to quantify potential soil carbon sequestration and soil quality improvements.  Assessments of farm operator and resource professional interest, economic analyses, and field measurements will be summarized regarding the potential for cellulosic bioenergy production in the study area.

Project Documentation: Great Plains Agroforestry.docx

Duration: 09/17/2015

Principal Investigator(s): Richard HallJohn TyndallAshley Hand