Using straight-growing black locust in on-farm agroforestry.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2000: $7,080.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $8,630.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dave Gell
Black Locust Initiative, Inc

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: trees, ornamentals


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry, nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, display, extension, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, agricultural finance, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, disease vectors, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, mulches - killed, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    This project addresses the goals of the SARE Farmer grant initiative by developing innovative production practices for the cultivation of a straight variety of black locust, which will provide profit for farmers, as well as environmental benefit, through the use of on-farm agroforestry techniques.

    Black locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) is a native tree species with great potential for agroforestry production on NY farms. Widespread in the forests of the northeast, it has long been used by farmers and settlers because of the rot-resistant qualities of its wood. It is commonly used for fenceposts, in particular, as well as lumber. The tree also improves the soil by fixing nitrogen and rooting fairly deeply. Locust has extremely high genetic variability, and the trees can vary from extremely crooked to shipmast-straight. While most locust are fairly crooked, stands of straight locust occur from place to place. Interestingly enough, they are often associated with old Indian village sites, a sign that the Native Americans may have been selecting the locust for straightness. Straight locust is, of course, more useful for posts and lumber.

    From a soon to be cleared straight stand of black locust in Burdett, NY, Dave Gell will collect roots and grow locust seedlings. They will be planted on an organic grain farm in Trumansburg, NY. The farmer, Tony Potenza, is interested in growing locust in areas of his farm that are not currently in production.

    The project has a double purpose; to develop methods for efficient production of straight black locust (Robina psuedoacacia var. Rectissima) on local farms and to preserve the genetics of the Rectissima stand that will soon be lost.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.