You are here: NRS Home  / Research Programs / Forest Disturbance Processes / Market -induced changes to forests / Optimizing Species Selection and Economic Performance of Woody Crops in the Southeastern, USA

Forest Disturbance Processes


Recommended Resources

Headlee, W.L., Hall, R.B., Zalesny, R.S. Jr., and Langholtz, M.H. 2014. Comparing poplars to eucalypts and loblolly pine on marginal lands in the southeastern USA – preliminary results from a project modeling biomass productivity and economic performance. In: International Poplar Symposium VI; July 20-23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Optimizing Species Selection and Economic Performance of Woody Crops in the Southeastern, USA

Research Issue

[photo:] Eucalyptus in the southeastern USA.Despite extensive information about the influence of environmental and climatic effects on specific short rotation woody crops (SRWC), studies comparing an array of species side-by-side across a wide range of environments are lacking. As a result, the relative productivity of different species under various environmental conditions is poorly understood, presenting significant challenges for selecting the optimal species for a given environment. In the southeastern USA, species selection can be especially challenging because warm temperatures and long growing seasons allow a wide variety of potential SRWC, including poplar, loblolly pine, and eucalypts – among others. Thus, direct comparisons of woody crop performance are expected to have the greatest impact and value in the Southeast. One way to conduct these comparisons, without having to establish costly regional field testing networks, is to integrate process-based biomass productivity modeling with economic analyses.     

   

Our Research

The overarching goal of this research is to better inform woody crop selection and optimize economic performance on marginal lands in the southeastern USA. To achieve this, we are currently: 1) adapting the 3-PG model for poplars, loblolly pine, and eucalypts within the region, using previously-published calibrations for these species as a starting point, and further calibrating and validating the model with existing plantation yield data; 2) generating productivity estimates for marginal lands within the region by climate zone and soil type, using the validated model from 1) and existing GIS layers for soils and climate; and 3) determining the optimum rotation age and land expectation value (LEV) for each species, as well as the economically-optimum species (i.e., highest LEV) by climate zone and soil, using the productivity estimates from 2).

Expected Outcomes

The primary expected outcome of this project is to determine the economically optimal species and rotation lengths for marginal lands in the southeastern USA. This will advance the current knowledge in the field by providing direct comparisons of the potential productivity for these species under a wide range of growing conditions, which may in turn lead to more rapid and efficient deployment of woody crops onto marginal lands in the region. The results will be useful to land managers and policymakers interested in SRWC for bioenergy on marginal lands, and would provide a significant contribution to ongoing economic modeling of biomass feedstock availability (e.g., current efforts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory).

Research Results

Lazarus, W.; Headlee, W.L.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2015. Impacts of supplyshed-level differences in productivity and land costs on the economics of hybrid poplar production in Minnesota, USA. BioEnergy Research 8:231-248.

Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.;  Langholtz, M.H. 2014. Comparing poplars to eucalypts and loblolly pine on marginal lands in the southeastern USA – preliminary results from a project modeling biomass productivity and economic performance. In: International Poplar Symposium VI; July 20-23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B.; Zalesny, R.S., Jr.;  Langholtz, M.H. 2014. Using process-based modeling to inform SRWC species selection and management in the southeastern USA. In: 10th Biennial Conference of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group; July 17-19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA.

Lazarus, W.; Headlee, W.L.;  Zalesny, R.S., Jr. 2014. Impacts of supplyshed-level differences in productivity and land costs on the economics of hybrid poplar production in Minnesota, USA. In: 10th Biennial Conference of the Short Rotation Woody Crops Operations Working Group; July 17-19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA. Also presented at: International Poplar Symposium VI; July 20-23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • William L. Headlee, Iowa State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Ames, IA

Research Partners

Last Modified: October 4, 2016