Development of agroforest systems for bioenergy crop production and ecosystem services in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $180,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Hal Liechty
School of Forest Resources, University of Arkansas

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: native plants, trees


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry, intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, organic matter, soil quality/health


    Switchgrass and cottonwood cropping systems are able to provide a substantial amount of bioenergy feedstock when grown on marginal soils in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. However, establishment technologies associated with these crops will need to be refined to reduce the risk of establishment failures and improve their economic viability. The quality of the bioenergy feedstock produced by the cottonwood was slightly better than that by switchgrass. Establishing these bioenergy crops produces important ecosystem services valued by society. If a monetary value were associated with these ecosystem services, growing these cottonwood or switchgrass bioenergy crops may become more feasible.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this project are to:

    1. quantify biomass production, potential bioenergy (ethanol, syndiesel, etc.) yields, and economics of agroforest systems with a variety of cottonwood and switchgrass compositions.

    2. quantify ecosystem services (carbon sequestration, nitrogen retention, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity) provided by agroforest systems with a variety of relative cottonwood and switchgrass compositions.

    3. provide information to farmers, bioenergy industry professionals, county agents, natural resource managers, and regional public officials on the production potential, financial viability, and ecological impacts of cottonwood/switchgrass agroforest biofeedstock systems; demonstrate establishment, harvesting, and bioenergy conversion technologies appropriate to these agroforest systems; and establish a stakeholder research and outreach steering committee to direct current and future project activities concerning these cropping systems.

    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.