October 2010 Field day

A hardy band of HFFN members travelled to the scenic Upper Hunter to inspect two properties over two days. A common theme was the effect of extreme events on trees.

On the first property, located in high, steep country in the Upper Rouchel Brook valley dominated by stringybarks, fire moved through the area over a two week period in November 2009. The trunks of most trees were blackened and epicormic growth was much in evidence. While some trees were destroyed, the majority appeared that they would survive with only a small amount of long term damage. An obvious management strategy is to keep debris away from the base of trees to reduce the possibility of fire reaching the crowns. Back burns to protect assets can be more effective if done just prior to the threat. If done too early, litter has a chance to re accumulate.

At the second property, located in the Martindale Creek valley, plantations of over 3000 trees, including spotted gum, ironbark, grey gum, slatey gum, white box and casuarina have been established. Typical tree spacing is 4m x 3m. In addition to frost and wallaby grazing, drought had a profound effect on the success rate of the plantings. There is an extensive area of ecologically valuable slatey gum on the higher country. Management lessons include: planting must be timed to the local seasonal conditions; ripping along the contour to retain runoff was effective on the higher and dryer areas, however the rip line soon disappeared on the alluvial flats; keep plantings away from established trees that are sucking up the moisture; initial planting of wattle and casuarina can assist the growth of eucalypts interplanted a bit later. The landowner’s overall conclusion is that plantations are useful as windbreaks, but management of regrowth is a better option for timber production.

Hunter Farm Forestry Network (HFFN) facilitates the exchange of information about farm forestry and promotes the productive and sustainable use of trees on farms in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, Australia.

Farm Forestry takes many forms including timber belts, windbreaks, revegetation projects and timber production

Farm forestry includes  commercial trees and shrubs incorporated into farm operations.

Farm Forestry improves agricultural productivity.

It’s about which tree you want, for the purpose that you want.