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Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 2874-2886; doi:10.3390/su5072874

Establishment of Alleycropped Hybrid Aspen “Crandon” in Central Iowa, USA: Effects of Topographic Position and Fertilizer Rate on Aboveground Biomass Production and Allocation

1
Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University, 339 Science II, Ames, IA 50011, USA
2
Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies, U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 5985 Highway K, Rhinelander, WI 54501, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 May 2013 / Revised: 21 June 2013 / Accepted: 28 June 2013 / Published: 3 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agroforestry)
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Abstract

Hybrid poplars have demonstrated high productivity as short rotation woody crops (SRWC) in the Midwest USA, and the hybrid aspen “Crandon” (Populus alba L. × P. grandidenta Michx.) has exhibited particularly promising yields on marginal lands. However, a key obstacle for wider deployment is the lack of economic returns early in the rotation. Alleycropping has the potential to address this issue, especially when paired with crops such as winter triticale which complete their growth cycle early in the summer and therefore are expected to exert minimal competition on establishing trees. In addition, well-placed fertilizer in low rates at planting has the potential to improve tree establishment and shorten the rotation, which is also economically desirable. To test the potential productivity of “Crandon” alleycropped with winter triticale, plots were established on five topographic positions with four different rates of fertilizer placed in the planting hole. Trees were then harvested from the plots after each of the first three growing seasons. Fertilization resulted in significant increases in branch, stem, and total aboveground biomass across all years, whereas the effects of topographic position varied by year. Allocation between branches and stems was found to be primarily a function of total aboveground biomass.
Keywords: agroforestry; biofuels; marginal land; Populus; triticale; woody biomass agroforestry; biofuels; marginal land; Populus; triticale; woody biomass
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. Establishment of Alleycropped Hybrid Aspen “Crandon” in Central Iowa, USA: Effects of Topographic Position and Fertilizer Rate on Aboveground Biomass Production and Allocation. Sustainability 2013, 5, 2874-2886.

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