Multifunctional Landscape Analysis and Design

Multifunctional Buffers

Grant funded by the Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council (NREC), Lead PI: Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell; Award: $590,880

Project Summary.  This project is guided by the framework of ‘landscape multifunctionality’, which promotes the integration of a range of different functions or benefits into the working landscape, beyond just production.  For Illinois farms, site-specific solutions including perennial buffers can be introduced into the less productive or marginal portions of the farm to provide environmental benefits such as nutrient scavenging, greenhouse gas reduction, and carbon sequestration, in addition to offering marketable products.  The proposed research program focuses on opportunities to establish and evaluate different multifunctional perennial systems appropriate for marginal or sensitive areas (e.g. sloped land, floodplains, etc.) on Illinois farms.

We have established the following treatments at sites in Urbana, IL and Forrest, IL:
     1. Control: Corn-soybean rotation
     2. Cover crop control: Corn (winter rye) - Soybean (hairy vetch/oat)
     3. Monoculture forage crop: Virginia wildrye
     4. Polyculture forage crop: Virginia wildrye + purple prairie clover + other native plants
     5. Monoculture bioenergy crop: Switchgrass 'Kanlow'
     6. Polyculture bioenergy crop: Switchgrass + big bluestem + Indiangrass + prairie cordgrass
     7. Monoculture small fruit: Aronia
     8. Polyculture small fruit: Aronia + Elderberry + Juneberry
     9. Monoculture floral shrub: Pussy willow
    10. Polyculture floral shrub: Pussy willow + red osier dogwood + snowberry

Lysimeters are used to collect leachate to analyze for nitrogen.


Total available nitrogen for buffer treatments at Urbana.  Treatments with corn/soybean rotation typically contain higher nitrogen due to fertilizer applications

Shrubs from the small fruits and floral cuttings plots.
  Some species perform better than others in the moist, high clay soils.