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Pitch

This proposal will activate a targeted group of stakeholders to expand trial agroforestry installations to new locations in mid-Missouri.


Description

Summary

 

  • Farmers need more, diversified, production options for their lands that link to stable markets in nearby towns and value-added points.
  • Agroforestry design capitalizes on the cropping systems’ energy/carbon/water cycles, reducing waste and dead end loops. Example, the leaves from the harvested sprouts are feed to wildlife during drought periods.
  • Biomass from coppice harvested, native, high BTU trees provide a massive supply of energy for the local “food-shed”, but in this renewable energy sense, a “dedicated energy crop-shed”.  
  • Tree plantings yield multiple products beyond short rotation energy crops; they also yield high value products for construction, furniture, and farming applications.
  • A key part of the agroforestry plantings are grazing systems that yield high quality meat/dairy, create healthy stands of pasture (which store carbon), and lead to greater productivity on the land.
  • Annual crops also rotate through the diverse farm system to provide food for direct consumption, high value cash crops, and a steady seasonal work for farming communities.
  • High efficiency biomass power plant facilities produce energy (electricity, steam, hot water, chilled water) acting as key hubs for walkable cityscapes with mixed density and mixed use residential, commercial, industrial, and agriculture uses.
  • Rural biomass sorting sites can also produce energy for local distribution, reducing the need for high capacity transition lines.
  • This plan involves lots of stakeholders cooperating over many years.  I have been in Columbia, MO for ten years since moving here for college. I have been organizing within Columbia’s robust environmental and agriculture networks, and have identified many of the key stakeholders to scale up my current agroforestry installations.
  • Future plantings will add replicates and various treatments to develop best practices for the cropping systems.  

 


What actions do you propose?

A suite of trial agroforestry plantings will be created in mid-Missouri on a variety of soil types and landscape positions.  Early adopters participating in the trails will help refine the silvicultural systems of maintaining the plantings for multiple products and farm system benefits.  One prospective site (under negotiation) includes a multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary partnership with the City of Columbia, MO to utilize 700+/- acres of public floodplain lands (currently in monoculture).  Using landscape architecture design the site would be converted to a public park with bike trails, an educational/training/production farm, and large scale research plots. 


Who will take these actions?

 

The urban agriculture non-profit that I co-founded in 2009, the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, will facilitate and take a leadership role in connecting the dots to organize the project.  A coalition of stakeholders will be recruited to join a working group that will plan and then implement the project. A key stakeholder group for the project includes landowners interested in adding trees to their current farming operation.  Other stakeholders include governmental, farming, academic, community organizing, industrial fabrication and a Patti Dobrowolski style graphic story teller. One specific stakeholder is the University of Missouri campus’ combined heat and power plant in downtown Columbia.  In 2012 a high efficiency biomass consuming boiler was installed, creating a steady demand for biomass energy feedstock.  


Where will these actions be taken?

Columbia, MO is at the eco-tone of the Missouri Ozarks and the Great Plains.  Here the farms are composed of a mixture of forested rolling hills and broad grasslands.  This area will be the first stage of implementation because of its ecological assets and because it is home to a great network of stakeholders I have been cultivating several years.  The cropping system is applicable to farmlands globally and can be replicated widely. 


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Emissions are reduced in several ways.  Working backward from the supply line:

  1. The end user power plants will replace fossil fuel coal with renewable wood chips
  2. Delivery trucks and rail road cars travel shorter distances than from coal sources
  3. Log sort yards that aggregate material can be designed to produce energy via small scale combined heat and power systems
  4. Trees will store carbon above and below ground
  5. Improved pasture health will increase carbon storage
  6. Forest management systems are compatible with draft horse power and high productivity equipment
  7. The avoided emissions from not growing a single monoculture crop 

Actualized emissions reduction/storage is a function of scale and scope.  Furthermore, there are several additional feedback loops that can materialize if the right ecological and economic factors are in place.  For example, a walkable mixed use development could be built adjacent to log sort yard’s energy facility to utilize the combined heat and power.


What are other key benefits?

Improve diversified farm viability, education, rural development, wildlife, soil health, air quality, and many more positive externalities of production are expected. 


What are the proposal’s costs?

Coordinating stakeholders to explore planning details will take time, but cost relatively little ($10,000). The early stages of the trial plantings are also inexpensive; costs include the team’s time, fuel, supplies, and seed handling/processing equipment ($5,000).  Larger scale trials will involve new equipment to do earth works projects (i.e. bio-swales) and that will increase production ($250,000).  Additional expensive steps come when harvesting and maintenance steps begin and specialized equipment is needed for harvesting/fuel handling ($1,000,000+). Finally, scaling these systems up to a regional effort require additional equipment to balance the utilization of all the components of the supply line (multi-millions).  


Time line

The team will be mobilized and will plan the critical steps to implement the multiple stages (1 year + ongoing). Agroforestry trials at 3 private locations will be implemented between 2013 and 2014. Negotiations with larger landowners will continue over the years and sites will gradually be added to the research study.  The first fodder/energy harvest from planting trails is anticipated during the second year after planting, and every 1-5 years thereafter.  Medium rotation wood products will be cut on a 5-20 year cycle and long rotation products 20+.  Livestock sales and annual crop production will contribute much needed cash flow to the operations in the initial years and throughout the life of the project.   


Related proposals

 

Mississippi/Missouri River Advanced Biomass/Biofuel Consortium (University of Missouri-Columbia Agroforestry Center), http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/events/sym2012.php (First item in agenda of 3rd annual Agroforestry Symposium (2012)) 


References

Michael Dirr- Osage Orange and Mulberry detailed descriptions. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propogation and Uses

Walter Reeves description of Osage Orange: http://www.walterreeves.com/landscaping/osage-orange-bodark-tree/

University of Missouri Power Plant Biomass program http://www.cf.missouri.edu/energy/em_renewable/index.html

U of M agroforestry  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hprobEqBUMY

Permiculture design: windbreak, silvopasture, bio-swale, ally cropping, etc. Permaculture: A Designers' Manual, Bill Mollison

Savory Institute, holistic grazing, http://www.savoryinstitute.com/holistic-management/

Patti Dobrowolski  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7KRSCyLqc4