Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design

Home Page

The Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design lab (MLAD) was established in 2006 by Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  MLAD is committed to the research and development of sustainable solutions for our working lands. In the face of current challenges that threaten our world including climate change, water shortages, and food insecurity, new alternatives for our landscape are needed. We believe that landscapes designed to provide multiple ecological, cultural, and production functions will be more sustainable and able to meet these challenges.  Our lab group works on projects in the Midwest, the Northeast, and elsewhere in the United States.
.
RECENT NEWS

Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at the University of Illinois has committed $400,000 in direct funds for research on Multifunctional Woody Polyculture for Sustainable Food Production!

This prestigious award follows a rigorous review process to identify innovative ideas for major thematic research areas.  The project was selected to support the Secure and Sustainable Agriculture research theme, with the intent of attracting significant external funding for future long-term activities. The overall goal of our proposed work is to develop a research infrastructure that evaluates the potential of multifunctional woody polyculture as a transformative system of agriculture to meet growing demand for healthy foods while advancing the sustainability of food production systems in the United States and abroad. The multidisciplinary project team includes Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell (PI) working on landscape multifunctionality, Dr. Nick Paulson on agricultural economics & policy, Dr. Jeremy Guest on life cycle assessment and water quality, Dr. Wendy Yang on global change and biogeochemistry, Dr. Michelle Wander on agroecosystem management, and Dr. Bruce Branham on local food systems, along with graduate students Kevin Wolz and Ron Revord.  More information can be found HERE.

.
Proposal to study multifunctional perennial buffers for marginal farmland has been funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council

Dr Sarah Taylor Lovell will be collaborating with a team of researchers from the University of Illinois to study the environmental and economic benefits of perennial buffers that could diversify production opportunities for farmers.  This spring (2014), research plots are being established at Field Research Stations in Dixon Springs, Urbana, and St. Charles.  The multidisciplinary team includes professors with expertise in agroecology, soil science, microbial ecology, and agricultural economics.  The team was awarded $590,880 for the five-year project.  More information can be found HERE.

.
Funding awarded from USDA-NIFA program to study Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems (MPCs) for introducing local food and biomass!

Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell is the lead Principle Investigator on a newly awarded 5-year grant with the overall goal to develop the information and tools to facilitate the transition to MPCs on “opportunity lands” of farms (lands marginal for conventional crops).  The project will target the Upper Sangamon River Watershed, a typical region of the Midwest primarily dominated by corn and soybeans. The funding will support research, education, and outreach for designing and implementing more sustainable agroecosystems.  This project is funded through the USDA-NIFA Small & Medium Sized Farms program, providing $499,866 for the 5-year duration.  More information can be found HERE.

.
Article by Sam Wortman and Sarah Taylor Lovell highlighted by Soil Science Society of America!

The article entitled "Environmental Challenges Threatening the Growth of Urban Agriculture in the United States" has just been published in the Journal of Environmental Quality.  We are excited to see it already receiving attention at the national level in a recent news release: here
A link to the full article can be found: here. See the other recent press covering this work:

.
Jeffords Hall (Plant Science Building) at University of Vermont wins Public Space Award from VTASLA!
Sarah Taylor Lovell was part of the design team that developed the concept for this multifunctional landscape. Her contributions were in the addition of innovative, sustainable features such as urban agriculture, edible landscaping, and stormwater infiltration swales.  Other features were included to support the education mission of the department - an arboretum of cold-hardy specimens and raised beds for plant collections.  If you ever find yourself in Burlington, VT, be sure to check it out!

.
.
Our work on mapping Chicago's food gardens has been highlighted in recent press articles including: