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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Research Project #429398

Research Project: Integrating Agroforestry into Small Farm Production Systems

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Project Number: 6020-21310-011-11-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2016
End Date: Jun 30, 2021

The overall objective of this project is to develop agroforestry strategies that can be successfully integrated into small farm production systems to optimize the economic, environmental, and natural resources benefits of these multifunctional working landscapes. Specifically we will (1) Improve the agricultural goods (e.g., crops, biomass), and ecosystem services (e.g., pollinator habitat) derived at field, farm, and landscape scales on prime as well as marginal lands; (2) Develop strategies to integrate trees, shrubs and grazing livestock into existing grasslands, and grasses and grazing livestock into forest stands; (3) Develop strategies to integrate specialty crops including medicinal plants and mushrooms into farm woodlot management as an integrated system; (4) Develop conservation practices to manage the fate and transport of sediments, nutrients, antibiotics, and pathogens from agricultural inputs including synthetic fertilizer, herbicides, grazing livestock manure, and applied poultry manure; (5) Quantify market values, non-market benefits, and socioeconomic incentives of integrated whole-farm production systems; (6) Create decision-support tools that integrate knowledge gained from all studies to assist multi-level decision makers, from the family farmers to the policy makers; and (7) Disseminate information to farmers, professionals and policy makers through field days, workshops and publications.

We will quantify the biophysical and socioeconomic drivers of productivity for small-farm agroforestry systems where trees or shrubs are produced in combination with livestock, forages and/or other crops; and use that information to develop strategies for optimizing the economic, environmental, and natural resources benefits of these systems. Multi-location trials in Missouri, Arkansas, and elsewhere will be utilized in this research. Biophysical investigations will encompass: measuring productivity; physiological and molecular investigations to enhance growth; screening of germplasm; breeding for enhanced growth in a changing climate; product development; assessing quality of food, fiber, and biomass; assessing soil health, water quality, pollinator habitat and/or other ecosystem services. Socio-economic investigations may include assessments of landowner attitudes towards agroforestry, agroforestry policies, markets, landowner adoption, economic and social impacts, life-cycle assessments, valuing ecosystem services, and sustainability indicators.