Lessons learned enhancing the farm forestry industry
Members of the Farm Forestry Landcare Network planting team.
The South Australian agroforestry industry is set to benefit from the research of local Landcare group, Farm Forestry Landcare Network (FFLN).
Over the past five years, the group has established 30 demonstration sites in the Coorong, Murraylands and Riverland regions, aiming to transform unproductive sand dunes into sustainable timber forests.
The transformation is part of Landcare Australia’s Agroforestry Development Series Demonstration Sites project which aims to develop and share knowledge of silviculture within the farming industry and increase sustainability.
FFLN is a volunteer organisation of farmers, growers, researchers and industry specialists who are passionate about agroforestry.
With the support of the Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) the group has released the results of the project in an effort to further enhance the prospects of farm forestry in South Australia.
Over 40,000 eucalyptus seedlings were propagated across the sites, involving 55 volunteers and 30 landholders. The project aimed to develop a comprehensive planting guide for identifying species that are able to be planted in unproductive sandy dune areas.
Planting of eucalyptus at a Murray Mallee Local Planning Association Inc. demonstration site.
FFLN chairman Ian Filmer said the project has enabled the group to gather important data which they hope to share with the wider farming community.
“A lot of people are interested in planting trees, but they’re just not sure where to start,” he said. “Our hope is that through our research we can encourage more people to see the benefits of agro-forestry.”
In particular, the project highlighted the importance of allowing two years for site preparation and protecting seedlings from frost.
“The results from sites established in low rainfall areas, with a less than a two-year preparation, didn’t fare as well and have experienced a higher level of loss,” Ian said.
“Past experience has shown that a longer preparation period can ensure better establishment and up to a 90% success rate.”
The project also identified that out of 13 local eucalypt species trialled, the sugar gum proved to have the best potential in low rainfall areas but is susceptible to frost, requiring tree guards in early stages of growth.
A three and half year-old plantation at a FFLN demonstration site in Karoonda.
According to AHHA general manager Demi Brown, the project’s results offer enormous benefit to the home heating industry.
“As the industry’s peak body we are committed to promoting home heating solutions that benefit not just the consumer, but also the environment,” she said.
“The results of this project offer useful advice on how to establish sustainably managed forests and plantations, which in time will offer consumers a more environmentally responsible choice.”
To learn more about the Agroforestry Development Series Demonstration Sites project, download the report.