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Individual Highlight

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Short-Rotation Poplar Energy Crops

Photo of Eight-year-old poplars ready to be harvested. R. Zalesny, Forest ServiceEight-year-old poplars ready to be harvested. R. Zalesny, Forest ServiceSnapshot : Woody production systems and conversion technologies help maintain healthy forests and ecosystems, create high-paying manufacturing jobs, and meet local/regional energy demands. Poplars are dedicated energy crops that also conserve soil and water, recycle nutrients, and sequester carbon.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr. 
Research Location : the Midwest
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 349


Poplar energy crops have been extensively studied throughout North America for over half a century and are one of many alternative feedstocks contributing to energy security. Building on work that began in late 1960s, Forest Service scientists and their partners have completed extensive studies that tested the genetics, physiology, and silviculture of poplar crops in a regional network of field trials first established in 1995. They are currently studying the carbon implications of 10- and 20-year-old plantations throughout the Midwest. They have analyzed biomass, rooting, and other important traits from hundreds of genotypes grown throughout the northern United States, as well as tree growth regulating mechanisms in the face of varying environments and changing climate. These results are currently being used to increase the energy potential of the trees and increase the efficiency of plantation establishment, which help meet U.S. energy demands.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Bernie McMahon, University of Minnesota - NRRI
  • Bill Lazarus and Doug Tiffany, University of Minnesota
  • Brian J. Stanton, GreenWood Resources, Inc.
  • David Coyle , University of Georgia
  • Georg von Wuehlisch, Johann Heinrich von Thuenen Institute
  • Glen Stanosz, University of Wisconsin
  • Jaconette Mirck, Canadian Agroforestry Development Centre
  • Jan Luedemann, Gustav Luedemann GMBH
  • Mark D. Coleman, University of Idaho
  • Mike Young, Verso Paper
  • Raymond O. Miller, Michigan State University
  • Richard B. Hall and William Headlee, Iowa State University