When I planted these as unroofed pencil cuttings in 1999 I had one idea in mind; that they slow down the wind to protect the young plants and us while we were farming. Simple, yet since my adventures into broadacre permaculture, I have had to take a second look at them. My first thought was complete removal. That would have been expensive. Then I found out we could grow mushrooms on the logs. We cut down a row and last year lots of new shoots grew ten feet or more tall. The part of the truck that is too big for mushrooms will be milled into timber or serving plates. While not an amazing wood it has its uses. The shoots we thinned out were mixed but could be use to fire up a rocket stove. So after one year, the poplars already are tall enough to offer us some wind protection.
Changing the farm to broadacre permaculture is as much about expanding our thoughts as it is practical actions. The poplars now have many roles to play. In about five years the shoots we have selected will be large enough to cut again into mushroom logs.