Event Title

Oberlin's Experimental Hazelnut Orchard: Exploring Woody Agriculture’s Potential for Climate Mitigation & Food System Resilience

Presenter Information

Naomi Fireman, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 101

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 3:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2019 4:20 PM

Abstract

Mitigating and adapting to climate change and transitioning to more sustainable agricultural methods to feed a growing human population are fundamental challenges today. Woody agriculture holds potential for addressing both through food production and carbon sequestration. To help assess this potential, in 2011, Oberlin College planted an experimental orchard made up of 70 hybrid hazelnut trees treated with three levels of fertilization. I asked the questions: How does annual allocation of carbon to different tissues change over time as hybrid hazels mature? How much carbon can this system store, where is it stored, and how does this change over time? How does fertilization affect patterns of carbon allocation and long-term storage? Are genetically diverse trees capable of producing nut crops similar in scale to conventional commodity crops in the Midwest? I documented a general increase in the production of all tissues in all treatments. Soil carbon storage increased from 2011 to 2018. The only significant effect of fertilizer is an increase in the production of woody biomass, suggesting hazelnuts are a low input crop. In 2017, this still maturing orchard produced an estimated 2.1 tonnes/hectare of in-shell nuts compared to typical local soybean yields of 3.4 tonnes/hectare. In addition, by the fall of 2018 the hazel plot had stored 12 tonnes/hectare of woody biomass. Although many challenges, including cost-effective harvest remain, work in this small-scale hazelnut orchard suggests strong potential for woody crops as low input, high productivity systems that concurrently sequester carbon.

Keywords:

Agroforestry; Sustainable Agriculture; Woody Agriculture; Carbon Sequestration; Hazelnuts

Notes

Session V, Panel 12 - Local | Environments
Moderator: Karl Offen, Professor of Environmental Studies

Major

Environmental Studies; Biology

Advisor(s)

Karl Offen, Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies

Project Mentor(s)

John Petersen, Environmental Studies

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Apr 27th, 3:00 PM Apr 27th, 4:20 PM

Oberlin's Experimental Hazelnut Orchard: Exploring Woody Agriculture’s Potential for Climate Mitigation & Food System Resilience

King Building 101

Mitigating and adapting to climate change and transitioning to more sustainable agricultural methods to feed a growing human population are fundamental challenges today. Woody agriculture holds potential for addressing both through food production and carbon sequestration. To help assess this potential, in 2011, Oberlin College planted an experimental orchard made up of 70 hybrid hazelnut trees treated with three levels of fertilization. I asked the questions: How does annual allocation of carbon to different tissues change over time as hybrid hazels mature? How much carbon can this system store, where is it stored, and how does this change over time? How does fertilization affect patterns of carbon allocation and long-term storage? Are genetically diverse trees capable of producing nut crops similar in scale to conventional commodity crops in the Midwest? I documented a general increase in the production of all tissues in all treatments. Soil carbon storage increased from 2011 to 2018. The only significant effect of fertilizer is an increase in the production of woody biomass, suggesting hazelnuts are a low input crop. In 2017, this still maturing orchard produced an estimated 2.1 tonnes/hectare of in-shell nuts compared to typical local soybean yields of 3.4 tonnes/hectare. In addition, by the fall of 2018 the hazel plot had stored 12 tonnes/hectare of woody biomass. Although many challenges, including cost-effective harvest remain, work in this small-scale hazelnut orchard suggests strong potential for woody crops as low input, high productivity systems that concurrently sequester carbon.