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Title:Multifunctional perennial landscape: small farm design in the Upper Sangamon River Watershed
Author(s):Littleton, Paul C
Department / Program:Landscape Architecture
Discipline:Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems
Landscape Architecture
Small Farm
Sangamon River Watershed
Abstract:The framework of this thesis parallels a much broader five-year research effort which began in the fall of 2014 through the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences titled “Multifunctional Perennial Cropping Systems (MPCS) for Introducing Local Food and Biomass Production for Small Farmers in the Upper Sangamon River Watershed (USRW)”. Spearheaded by Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, this long-term project pursues multiple objectives which seek to understand the complex social and ecological relationships of the watershed. Findings will be used to support educational landscape-based design research and to develop decision-support tools for land owners who want to integrate MPCS on marginal farmland. This thesis explores using MPCS in the projective design of marginal areas of an actual 171 acre ranch north of Mahomet, Illinois, that represents a prototypical small farm. Landscape features, primarily originating from permacultures applications, and local plant types are examined and categorized to help understand their role in an integrated agrosystem. The design goal is to develop a master plan that successfully joins functional attributes of human condition, wildlife habitat, erosion control, and crop production in a cohesive land use strategy. Layers of geographic information are analyzed to locate areas of flooding, poor soil types, and slopes hindering conventional crop production. Owners’ land use preferences and are considered, circulation patterns identified, and wildlife corridors studied to inform the design process. Iterations of the design process are graphically explored with functions in isolation. Tradeoffs and successes are identified independently and then blended in a final design solution. The final design, based on the MPCS paradigm, is assessed in the context of the farm’s current use and as if the land was completely converted into conventional annual row crops. At the small farm scale the Multifunctional Landscape Assessment Tool (MLAT) is applied to the three scenarios. Comparisons are drawn showing the benefits of MPCS through an analysis of the functionality of individual landscape features. On a larger scale, soil erosion is estimated with the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) the results of which support the idea that MPCS is a valuable strategy for safeguarding clean water in the watershed. Successes and short comings are discussed as well as avenues for future research.
Issue Date:2015-04-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Paul Littleton
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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