Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design

Cropland Survey

The goal of the Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems Project at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is to improve the yield and sustainability of marginal cropland and diversify farmer income, while the products of MPCs can contribute to locally sourced food. This spring, the project is launching a survey of farm management and preferences for alternative cropping systems for marginal land.  Multifunctional systems of agriculture have social, economic, and environmental benefits at multiple scales. The goal of the Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems Project is to create the opportunity to integrate multiple ecosystem services (e.g. soil conservation, recreational activities) into the landscape. We aim to develop the tools for farmers to design, plan, and implement these systems and optimize the benefits. The study area for this project is the Upper Sangamon River Watershed (USRW), or farms in Central Illinois. To address the adoption of multifunctional systems in Central Illinois, we need the help of farmers and land managers to explain their preferences and attitudes related to alternative cropping systems. For this we developed a survey. From the pool of survey respondents, 16-20 farmers will be identified to work with further and develop a custom MPCs on their land.  

Survey Information: We’d like to ask for a moment of your time to help with an exciting new research program at the University of Illinois: The Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems (MPCs) Project.   Our mission is to enhance local food and biomass production in Central Illinois with Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems. MPCs are a multiple-crop system with food or bioenergy plants that only need to be planted once. They can be planted on marginal farmland (waterlogged, sloped, or poor soil) to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff. These systems won’t take productive farmland out of higher-value cropping systems, but instead provide a mixed form of income, increase the yield and benefits from the land, and create long-term stability of fields. Your input is important.   Our team wants to know more about what farmers would need in order to adopt MPCs. Over the next 3 years, we’ll investigate:   Farmer attitudes, opportunities, and adoption preferences.Map ‘Opportunity lands’ on farms in the study area.Develop design scenarios with MPCs for 16-20 small farmers and 4 demonstration sites    The survey is available online at  The first 300 surveys completed and returned by February 16, 2015 will be entered into a drawing to win one of three $50 Visa gift cards. Participating farmers will have the opportunity to work with us further to develop MPCs on their land.    

LINK to Survey Packet (pdf)

 LINK to Online Survey (web)