Ecosystem Services Provided by Shrub Willow Buffers in a Row Crop Production System

Colleen Zumpf, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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Abstract:  Modern agricultural production systems face a major challenge of balancing large-scale production of food, energy, and bioproducts to meet the needs of the growing human population as well as managing these systems to achieve sustainability. One promising approach to address this challenge is the application of multifunctional landscapes to achieve both crop productivity and sustainability goals (e.g. improved soil health and reduced water quality impairment, biodiversity loss, and greenhouse gas emissions). A 9-year study was conducted on a 6.5 ha corn-soybean field in Central Illinois to evaluate one design approach - the strategic placement of shrub willow buffers on marginal land in a row crop production system for feedstock production and the provision of ecosystem services. This presentation will highlight the many ecosystem services provided by willows in this production system as well as the importance of design parameters, such as buffer position, on study results.