Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research
Project Number: 5030-11610-003-29-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Oct 1, 2012
End Date: Nov 30, 2016
Evaluate the potential of agroforestry plantings in the Great Plains to provide bio-based feedstock, carbon sequestration, income, and investment opportunities.
Existing agroforestry plantings (field windbreaks and riparian buffers) in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas will be selected, 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 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s COMET-VR carbon calculator for agroforestry (trees in open spaces). Potential carbon sequestration and bioenergy production will be estimated for direct combustion, wood cellulose to ethanol, and fast pyrolysis. Soil samples will be collected in transects across each planting to determine basic soil quality parameters and soil organic carbon. The National Commodity Crop Productivity Index (NCCPI) will be adapted to identify the distribution of soils that are marginal for crop production but suitable for tree growth. Economic assessment will compliment field results with full-cost accounting of potential woody biomass systems. Using regional yield assessments, per ton feedstock break-even points will be calculated to predict minimum gate income for feedstock production. A representative survey of owner/operators of identified marginal land in a case-study region will gauge farmer interests, concerns, and income thresholds. Focus groups and a workshop will provide practical feedback for relevance of data for adoption and practice and education materials content and focus.