17 March 2010

Creating a Multifunctional Agricultural System

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The emergence of biofuels into agricultural systems presents new opportunities for farmers to improve economic return while providing critical ecosystem services

Integrating perennial crops can help meet food, fuel and fiber needs, but will require an understanding of biomass productivity on specific landscape positions and environments. To diversify their farms, farmers will need to know where their crops will give them the best yield.

Landscape processes, such as hill slope length and gradient, water retention and flow patterns, and soil properties have been shown to influence crop yield. In recent years, the process of describing and analyzing landscape terrain features has become more accurate and precise due to advances in Geographic Information Systems technology, allowing farmers and landowners to explore new cropping systems design strategies, such as directed placement of annual and perennial crops.

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