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

2009 Annual Report for LS09-219

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

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


Preliminary results indicate that differing clones utilized in the cottonwood plantings have had similar survival and growth. Stakeholder research and outreach steering committees in three different areas of the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley have been formed and an initial meeting occurred at one location to guide future efforts on the project. Biomass production yields and ecosystems services from the various cottonwood and switchgrass agroforests will begin to be quantified the second year of the project.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. 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.


Crop Establishment
Cottonwood, switchgrass, and soybeans were planted and established during 2009 at the three study sites utilized for this project. Three different cottonwood clones (ST66, S7C20, and mixed) were planted in each of the agroforest plots. We established 70% as the survival goal for the cottonwood at the end of the first growing season. All but one of the twenty seven plots planted with cottonwood met the overall 70% survival goal. This plot had only 56% survival. Growth of the trees varied among sites as well as among plots within a site due the variation of soils and drainage. Average height at the end of 2009 ranged from 63.8 to 101.0 cm.
Successful switchgrass (Alamo) establishment (40% coverage by the end of the growing season) occurred on 55% of the plots at two of the three research sites. At the other research site, low rainfall following planting killed the newly emerged switchgrass and establishment was unsuccessful in all plots. Switchgrass will be replanted during 2010 in plots or portions of plots that did not have successful switchgrass establishment. Soybeans were harvested in the fall of 2009. Yields and weight of crop residue was recorded. Grain sorghum will be planted in spring 2010 in these soybean-sorghum plots.

Ecosystem Services
Initial soil sampling was performed as part of the effort to monitor carbon sequestration by soils within the differing cropping systems. Soil sample analysis is being performed. Tension lysimeters which will be utilized to monitor soil water chemistry and nitrogen loss were installed at each research site.

Outreach and Extension
Stakeholder advisory committees were established for each of the three research sites. Initial advisory meetings for one of the sites occurred in 2009. Initial dates for field days during 2010 and topics for extension factsheets to be written in 2010 were established.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

This project will provide stakeholders with information to assess the economic and environmental viability of using cottonwood/switchgrass agroforest systems for providing bioenergy feedstocks. In addition activities needed for establishing these systems, potential risks or problems associated with conversion to these cropping system, and potential benefits associated with production of these feedstocks will be presented to landowners and other stakeholders through field days, publications, and electronic media.


Dr. Don White, Jr.
Associate Professor of Wildlife
University of Arkansas
Arkansas Forest Resources Center, PO Box 3468
Monticello, AR 71656
Office Phone: 8704601490
Charles West
Professor of Agronomy
University of Arkansas
Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences
1366 W. Altheimer Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Office Phone: 4795753982
Mitch Crow
County Extension Agent
University of Arkansas Extension
313 S. Izard St. Suite 14
Forest City, AR 72335
Office Phone: 8702611730
Samy Sadaka
Asst. Professor Extension Engineer
University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture
2301 S University Ave Rm 305J
Little Rock, AR 72204-4940
Office Phone: 5013030522
Michael Blazier
Assistant Professor Forestry
Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
Hill Farm Research Station
11959 Hwy 9
Homer, LA 71040
Office Phone: 3189272578
Brent Howton

Howton Farms
2430 SFC 860
Palenstine, AR 72372
Office Phone: 8705812617
Dr. Vic Ford
Director-Southwest Research and Extension Center
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
362 Hwy. 174 N
Hope, CA 71801
Office Phone: 8707779702
Roger Eason
Resident Director-Pine Tree Branch Station
University of Arkansas
7337 Hwy 306 West
Colt, AR 72326
Office Phone: 8706635767
John Cooper

Cooper Agriculture, Southern Seedlings
1028 Harrion St.
Rayville, LA 71259
Office Phone: 3187282087
Matthew Pelkki
Professor of Forestry
University of Arkansas
Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Forest Resources Center PO Box 3468
Monticello, AR 71656
Office Phone: 8704601949
Jon Barry
Assistant Professor/Forester
University of Arknasas Extension Service
Southwest Research and Extension Center
Hwy 174
Hope, AR 71801
Office Phone: 8707779702
James Barnes
Rural Development Center, LSU AgCenter
101 Ag. Admin. Bldg.
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Office Phone: 3184284029
M Allison

Associate Professor/Research Coordinator
Lousiana State Univeristy Agricultural Center
Macon Ridge Research Station
212-A Macon Ridge Rd.
Winnsboro, LA 71295
Office Phone: 3184352157
Roger Stephenson

Stephenson Farms
248 Highway 856
Mangham, LA 71259
Office Phone: 3182483489
Chuck Capps
County Extension Agent
University of Arkansas Extension Service
210 S. Main Street
Room H
Monticello, AR 71655
Office Phone: 8704606270
Donna Morgan
Assistant Area Agen
Lousiana State University AgCenter
8208 Tom Bowman Drive
Alexandria, LA 71302
Office Phone: 3184274424
Bob Zielinske
District Forester
Arkansas Forest Commission
PO Box 3468
Forrest City, AR 72336-0468
Office Phone: 8706336693