Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research CenterTitle: Significant opportunities for tree crop expansion on marginal lands in the Midwest, USA
|THAPA, BHUWAN - University Of Missouri|
|LOVELL, SARAH - University Of Missouri|
|MEIER, NICHOLAS - University Of Missouri|
|REVORD, RONALD - University Of Missouri|
|GOLD, MICHAEL - University Of Missouri|
Submitted to: Land Use Policy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2023
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Tree crops and integrating agroforestry within the farm operation is increasing within the USA. One of the common questions from farmers relates to suitability for particular trees on their farm. Trees are a large investment and finding the appropriate environment is a necessity to ensure success. This research focused on using digital maps and data to identify locations within the state of Missouri where eastern black walnut, pecan, and Chinese chestnut would be ideal for planting based on the environmental conditions. The analysis showed that the state of Missouri has approximately 5 million hectares of land suitable for the three tree species, of which 88,000 hectares are currently fallow, idle, and barren. Of the available suitable land, 77 percent is suitable for black walnut, 18 percent for pecan, and 14 percent for Chinese chestnut. Converting these fallow lands to tree crops could provide economic, public health, and environmental benefits to surrounding communities by supporting diversification of cropping systems.
Technical Abstract: Tree crops can diversify farm income while supporting soil stabilization, water purification, and other ecosystem services. However, a challenge to tree crops' broader adoption is identifying suitable land that doesn’t have the steep cost associated with highly productive row crop areas. The study’s first objective is to develop a spatial framework to identify opportunity land suitable for tree crops but not appropriate for commodity crops due to soil characteristics, environmental hazards, and technical limitations. The second objective is to evaluate the biophysical suitability of three tree species, i.e., eastern black walnut, pecan, and Chinese chestnut, on the identified opportunity land using GIS-based Multicriteria Analysis. This framework is tested for the state of Missouri, USA. The spatial analysis showed that the state has approximately 5 million hectares of opportunity land, of which 88,000 hectares are currently fallow, idle, and barren. Of the available opportunity land, 77 percent is suitable for black walnut, 18 percent for pecan, and 14 percent for Chinese chestnut. Converting these fallow lands to tree crops could provide economic, public health, and environmental benefits to surrounding communities. This framework can serve as a screening tool for identifying tree cropping areas for rural America’s economic revitalization.