Trees: For Farm Health
Trees on farms have benefits of improving productivity and land health, as well as capturing and storing carbon. Trees store carbon in their wood and litter where it remains until the trees rot or are destroyed (e.g. by fire).
All wood products, including timber and paper, are about 50 per cent carbon. When carefully integrated into farms, trees can increase farm productivity through soil and water conservation and as shelter to animals.
This extends growing seasons, increases animal health, improves crops, can help minimise spray drift and can improve aesthetic value on farms. Under well planned farm forestry systems, trees have the potential to provide additional income.
- Through Landcare, many farmers have revegetated degraded sections of their farms or waterways - up to 20 per cent of their farms - and still produce more food or fibre. What a win-win for farming!
- Identify on your farm plan areas that might be suited for shelterbelts, woodlots or wildlife areas, or for managing problem areas such as erosion control - most farms have some parcels of land that are less productive and make sensible locations for plantings.
- Establish new tree plantations and ensure species selection and site preparation are geared towards optimal survival and growth ? find out from your local Landcare network suitable tree species and establishment techniques for your site.
- Consider growing some woodlots with tree species that can be used on-farm (e.g. for fodder, fence posts, poles or firewood), ensuring not to use species classified as weeds (see our A-Z of Weeds and/or Weeds Australia website).
- Ask your local Landcare network if there are any local grant programs, suitable nurseries or site preparation and revegetation contractors who can help you.
- Encourage regeneration of native trees and shrubs, for example by fencing out established native vegetation, according to a well thought out farm plan.
- Protect existing native trees and shrubs from loss or damage by fire, land clearing or animals.
- Use an appropriate carbon calculator to estimate how much carbon is being stored in your farm woodlot.
- Consider your options for creating and trading carbon credits on the carbon market, noting that:
- the rate of carbon sequestration of farm woodlots is directly related to the type of trees, their age and how fast they grow.
- farm woodlots used to create and sell carbon are often subject to ongoing conditions and contracts, which should be thoroughly investigated before proceeding.
- different types of carbon markets exist, so you should familiarise yourself with how these work and what is involved, including what types of plantings are eligible to be counted as carbon sequestration.