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Mid – American Agroforestry Working Group

September 28, 2011

Background… from The Leopold Center website:

The Leopold Center is coordinating a new outreach effort that combines agriculture and forestry. The Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group held its first exploratory meeting in November at the Iowa Arboretum in Boone County.

The group is coordinated by Leopold Center Ecology Initiative leader Jeri Neal and Leopold Center program coordinator Malcolm Robertson with leadership from Michele Schoenberger, research project leader at the USDA National Agroforestry Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A steering team is developing a charter that initially will include these 15 states: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

“Agroforestry has enormous potential for bringing substantial economic and environmental benefit to the land,” said Neal. “We hope to coordinate and leverage an extensive collaboration of stakeholders, from agencies to researchers to producers, to boost agroforestry into the mainstream, with viable markets and rural enterprises driving adoption.

“Initial activities are to refine existing practices such as the use of riparian buffers, and to investigate design of innovative new systems. Among the many benefits of woody systems in agricultural landscapes are: high energy input:output ratios, fewer negative impacts on soil and water, and enhanced wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. In regions dominated by row crops, forested ecosystems provide critical habitat and travel corridors for a diverse array of game and non-game species; help stabilize soils and maintain soil quality; efficiently cycle water and nutrients, and provide additional hydrological benefits ranging from protecting and enhancing aquatic ecosystems to moderating storm, peak and base flows in watersheds.

More than 20 people from eight states attended the initial gathering. They represented research and extension units at Iowa State University, University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and the USDA Agricultural Research Service; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in several states; and private consultants and nongovernmental organizations.

The Leopold Center will facilitate and provide administrative support for the group, such as meeting coordination and posting materials on a central Web site that is under construction.

Leopold Center agroforestry work

Two current competitive grants in the Ecology Initiative relate to agroforestry:

  • Woody biomass: John Tyndall, ISU Natural Resource Ecology and Management, is studying the wood-based feedstock supply in Iowa, including the availability, scalability and infrastructure requirements necessary to supply fiber for bioenergy and other bio-based products.
  • Alternative landscape biomass: Lisa Schulte Moore, ISU Natural Resource Ecology and Management, is leading a multi-disciplinary team to compare five cropping systems for biomass production at different points in the landscape: continuous corn, conventional corn/soybean with triticale and switchgrass, sweet sorghum/triticale, and a combination of triticale and aspen or cottonwood. The project includes 75 test plots in Boone County and more than 1,000 trees.

Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group | Leopold Center for
Agroforestry intentionally combines agriculture and forestry to create integrated and sustainable land-use systems. Agroforestry takes advantage of the

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