Helpful advice on starting a tree farm

If you have enough land you might consider establishing a small-scale tree farm to supply firewood. A tree farm can be organized so it serves other useful roles beyond simply supplying fuel.  Following this helpful advice can increase the return on your investment of time, money and space.

Helpful advice on starting a tree farm

Getting started

There are a couple of different methods and considerations to make regarding starting a tree farm.

  • Planting seedling trees bought from a plant nursery can start a modest plantation.
  • Seeding the ground may be appropriate if you have the patience.
  • It may be possible, with protective fencing, to encourage natural regeneration from remnant trees.
  • Consider climatic and site conditions as well as your immediate wood requirements when planning a plantation.
  • Find out about rainfall, temperature and wind patterns.
  • Find out which trees grow best in your area and whether you should plant a single species or a mix.

Maintaining the right yield

A timber plantation can supply firewood indefinitely if the quantity of wood harvested is based on a sustained yield. Wood needs to be taken at a rate equal to or less than the rate at which it is replaced. The harvesting rate will have to be reduced if the tree farm is being set up for uses other than firewood.

A tree farm provides more than just firewood

A strategically located plantation can serve many purposes:

  • The trees could form a barrier to wind to protect stock, crops and living areas.
  • The trees can provide shade for animals, contribute to erosion control and to help correct soil salinity.
  • More trees on your property also mean a more extensive habitat for nesting and resident birds and other wildlife; a good-sized bird population is an invaluable aid in helping control the spread of insect pests that attack farm crops.
  • Dense hardwood timbers are at least as highly valued for rough construction materials used in fences and buildings as they are for firewood.
  • The same hardwood plantation may also be a source of nectar for bee keeping and the production of honey.
  • The use of tree plantings in combination with cropping and grazing, a form of rural land use now known as 'agroforestry', is becoming common.

Good planning and execution will ensure that a plantation grows vigorously and remains healthy and productive for whatever uses you need.

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