Case Study Analysis Exercise
Agroforestry Training Workshop, March 20, 2007
Island Lake Farm, Crow Wing County Minnesota
Farm Size: 107 acres – 73 acres from original homestead, 34 acres purchased in 1997
Husband – 45, works full time off the farm
Wife – 43, works full time off the farm
Boys – 17, 14, 12, 5
Girls – 15, 6
The original homestead of the eastern most 73 acres was purchased by the Wife’s father
in 1978. It was inherited by her in 1982. Approximately 60 acres of this property was
wetland, with 6 acres of accessible high ground and 7 acres limited access high ground.
The westerly 34 acres was purchased in 1997 which included the 18 acre woodlot and the
10 acre field.
The husband is the farm production manager and makes most day to day decisions. The
wife is in charge of marketing and record keeping and directs the long range planning.
Daily chores are divided among the children.
The Crow Wing County Soil Survey for this area was a reconnaissance survey and the
detail is limited. The upland soils are classified as Chetek-Onamia Association with
Chetek making up 70 percent of the area, Onamia 20 percent, and associated soils making
up the rest. Depth to the water table is greater than six feet for both series. Both are well
drained and developed mainly on outwash plains.
USLE T Factor: 3 tons/acre-year
Current Operations and Equipment:
Firewood and sawlogs are
harvested from the woodlot.
A Sugar bush with approximately
100 taps annually
100 log Shitake mushroom
Large vegetable garden
Meat and laying chickens
3 sow farrow to finish operation
20 HP compact tractor
6’ Spring tooth
610 Bobcat Skid Steer
18HP rubber track Otter
Peterson Portable Sawmill
Chicken “Tractor” 3 Port-A-Huts
Parcel Detail and Current Use:
Field - This is a 10 acre field that was in row crop production through 2002. Currently it
is permanent forage. The southeastern corner of the field has an ongoing history of
erosion as most of the field and a large section of roadway drain through this area to the
Woodlot – This is an 18 acre woodlot. The majority of the woodlot is typed as a
MHc26b Central Dry-Mesic Oak-Aspen Forest subtype Red oak – Sugar Maple –
Basswood, using the Field Guild to the Native Plant Communities of Minnesota. The
woodlot is all aged and is well stock with an average basal area of 110 square feet per
acre. Red oak and basswood are co-dominant species with ironwood and sugar maple
regeneration in the 1-4” age class at 200- 1200 stems per acre. Scattered mature white
and red pine, are also present with some white pine regeneration in these areas. A small
inclusion of WFn55b Northern Wet Ash Swamp subtype Black Ash – Yellow Birch –
Red Maple- Basswood is also present, located in the Northwest portion of the stand.
Wetlands – Comprising a total of 64 acres, wetlands are a large portion of the property.
The wetlands are classified as type 2, 3, 6, and 8 and are part of a larger wetland complex
of approximately 600 acres. Much of the wetland borders Island Lake and a creek flows
through the northeast corner of the wetland.
Wooded Pasture - This area is approximately 3 acres and has a history of grazing. They
are some mature bur oaks and regeneration of pioneer species including aspen, jack pine,
and paper birch. Access is limited to frozen ground conditions.
Old Growth Island - This parcel is an example of the NPC MHc26b in the later
succession stages. Consisting of mature basswood and sugar maple, this stand holds
special significance to the landowners. Access is limited to frozen ground conditions or
by canoe across the lake in the summer.
Homestead - This area includes the home and related outbuildings and the field from the
original homestead. Areas of interest within the homestead include:
The northern most acre of the property was planted to red, white, and jack pine in
2003. Trees were planted 8’ X 10’ spacing with several rows of native shrubs
planted in the middle, including chokecherry, juneberry, and crabapple.
The barn and wintering area for 4 horses is located in the middle of the field.
Adjacent to this is several large garden plots to the south and west.
A young and expanding orchard in the southern portion of the field. Currently it
includes 12 apple, several plum, and 2 cherry trees. Some of these trees are just
beginning to produce and all but three few semi-dwarf apples are planted on
standard rootstock. Twenty five additional standard rootstock were planted in
2007 and will be field grafted in 2008 or ’09. Some juneberry cultivars, hybrid
hazelnut, and brambles have been planted in this area as well. A small pond was
excavated for irrigation several years ago.
The main goals of the farm are to produce food, fuel, and fiber for the farm, as well as
possible future college tuition for the children. It is priority for the landowners to
showcase ecological sound production practices that reduce of off farm inputs. Although
not organically certified, organic practices are encouraged. Long term soil and timber
productivity and protection of the abundant local water resources are priorities. The farm
is located at the headwaters of the Ripple River watershed and locally the Portage/
Crooked Lake chain.
Livestock integration including fowl, hogs, and horses
Fruit and vegetable production
Sustainable woodlot management
Income generation opportunities for children
Enhanced diversity and wildlife habitat
Preservation of Old Growth Island
Diverse, low input, perennial cropping systems
Protection of soil and water resources
Workshop participants will be divided into small groups of at most 10 people. A real case
study will be given to the group and each group will design and develop an agroforestry
system. This is a real case study where participants will address the issues, problems and
objectives identified by the landowner for his/her property. The landowner will be
invited to introduce his/her case. One and one-half hours will be allocated for this
exercise, including the introduction of the case and presentation of outputs.
Each group will be allowed to brainstorm until a concrete plan is developed. Group
outputs will be presented at the plenary session of the workshop. Each group will
designate a reporter to report the group’s recommendation/plan. During the brainstorming
process, instructors will provide the following questions as guides in developing the
agroforestry plan based on the landowner’s situation.
1. What agroforestry practices would you consider recommending to the farm family
2. In your designs, indicate species and illustrate how the practice might look when
laid out on the land.
3. What, if any, incentive programs might the farm family tap to assist them in
4. What economic opportunities might be incorporated into the existing farm
5. What can be done to enhance the landowners’ conservation objectives?
6. What barriers exist to getting agroforestry established? (E.g., Governmental
program barriers; accessibility to credit, labor, markets or other financial barriers.)
7. What are your suggestions for overcoming the barriers to establishing the
agroforestry practice(s) you have identified?