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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Southwest > Hybrid Poplar as a Wellhead Protection Area Crop

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Hybrid Poplar as a Wellhead Protection Area Crop


Wellhead protection areas which are the draw down land surface of municipal drinking water wells are being mapped and identified. Surface land use practices in these areas are affecting water quality. Hybrid poplars and other deep rooted plants can offer phytoremediation benefits to these areas in selected sites to protect and possibly improve water quality. This project is developing educational materials to assist land owners in establishing these plants.

The goals of this project are to:

  1. Create a network of collaborators that could be used to replicate this project anywhere in the state or country.
  2. Using current research, develop an educational publication: "Best Management Practices: Poplar Manual for Agroforestry Applications in Minnesota". Additionally, we also plan to offer the manual through one or more educational delivery methods.
  3. To use funds from this planning project as "seed" to generate "in the ground" plantings through other sources of funding.


UM - Hydrologist, CINRAM Intern, CNR Graduate Student, Regional Extension Educators, Regional Sustainable Dev. Partnership, UM Agronomy Department, WCRSDP, active citizens, Agroforestry Resource Manager, RC & D Forester - DNR, MN Agroforestry Cooperative, MDA Agronomist, Wes-Min RC & D,UM Soils, MN Department of Health, Pope County SWCD


2004: Grant received; Began developing partnerships and formulating plan for community plantings
2005: Continued to identify a community to plant poplars to protect wellhead area
2006: Decided to use the Rosholt Farm as a Hybrid Poplar research site; Planted new poplar clones at Rosholt Farm; Documented all clones on the Rosholt Farm
2007: Pope County SWCD wanted to reclaim the Rosholt Farm to cropland; We received a Productive Conservation Grant by RC & D to evaluate yield and energy value of poplars, willows and native plants; We created a plan to reclaim the Rosholt Farm and collect as much data from the poplars at the site that were planted in 1995 and 1997.
2008: Identified Hybrid Poplar clones to harvest for yield and energy values; Harvested the poplars; Tested for energy and ash nutrient values; We are planning to document all activities and create a journal article to share or findings


  1. The "Best Management Practices: Poplar Manual for Agroforestry Applications in Minnesota" Agroforestry manual was completed 2008.
  2. Selected Hybrid Poplar clones were identified and harvested at the Rosholt Farm.
  3. Lab tests were conducted on each clone at 4 sites on each tree (base, middle, top and branches). These tests were for energy value and soil ash nutrient content.
  4. During this project a Biomass gasification plant was built at the UM Campus - WCROC in Morris. This facility will be a vehicle to promote further research and development of bio-energy in the future.



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