For the last two weeks I’ve had the pleasure of staying at the Bambra Agroforestry Farm (http://www.agroforestry.net.au/) with a number of other students as part of my Forestry Studies. It is a great place if you have a chance to visit and I’ve learned heaps about Farm Forestry from Rowan.
Our first stop was to visit a colleague of Rowan’s, Andrew Stuart, who is a member of the Otways Agroforestry Network who create a support network for farmers wanting to learn and undertake farm forestry. Andrew manages his property which is 230ha and his family has managed the site for 5 generations. Following Andrew’s realisation that the land and catchment was becoming degraded, he bagan working with Rowan to redesign his property.
One great technique was the planting of timber species along the water-ways. This allows the trees to stabilise the banks of the river while providing water for the timber trees. The planting can subsequently be selectively logged to generate timber for use of farm or sale and the regenerated riverbank stays in tact.
However, the best thing I saw on Andrew’s property was his shelter-belts. These are hugely important for him as they provide protection for his sheep when birthing lambs and following shearing. Cold winds are responsible for the death of many sheep and lambs when they are vulnerable and his shelterbelts help to keep his livestock healthy.
To properly block the wind, a shelterbelt requires multiple layers so that winds can not pass above or below the trees. Andrew uses a range of useful shrubs between his wind-break eucalypts. In the future, some of the Eucalypts could be harvested for timber without compromising the shelter-belt planting. It used to be thought that wind-breaks and shelter-belts needed to be planted like a ramp to lift the wind up but this has been disproved. As a result, farmers have more options when designing shelterbelt plantings as long as they keep them multi-layered. Selecting 5 rows of trees and shrubs is also important as it is very difficult to re-establish a tree in a gap in a shelterbelt as it becomes a location where the wind can funnel through, drying out establishing seedlings.
Checkout Andrew’s story here: http://www.agroforestry.net.au/main.asp?_=Yan%20Yan%20Gurt%20West and try to visit on a tour if you are in the area. I hope that this information helps you with your shelter-belt design.