Forestry professor awarded grant for woody crop study
Dr. Joshua Adams, assistant professor in the Louisiana Tech Department of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry, was recently awarded $150,000 to study eastern cottonwood and hybrid poplar varieties of trees in collaboration with Mississippi State University assistant professor Heidi Renninger and extension/research professor Randy Rousseau. The trio will research growth, disease resistance, water and nutrient use, and potential effects of beneficial fungi and bacteria when these trees are grown as short rotation woody crops. This project is supported by the Sun Grant Initiative and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “The southeastern United States has a climate and conditions that can support vigorous growth and productivity of crops, particularly fast-growing tree species,” Adams said. “Growing short rotation woody crops for a variety of bio-products, including biofuels, will allow landowners access to income from the renewable energy sector, which can diversify their revenue streams and potentially better utilize their land.” Research is needed to determine how selected poplar varieties utilize water and nutrients over various site types so that the best recommendations can be made regarding which types of trees will perform best under a specific set of site conditions. Field test trials will be planted in both Mississippi and Louisiana. Comparison of yearly growth, disease resistance, water use and nutrient uptake across sites and poplar varieties will allow the determination of not only which variety exhibits the best performance, but whether site conditions of water and nutrient availability are limiting growth. “In addition, half of the individuals at each site will be planted with beneficial fungi and bacteria to determine if measureable differences in growth, water use, and nutrient uptake are achieved with their use,” Adams said.