Seeing wood for the trees

The New Zealand Farm Forestry Conference starts today. Photo / Supplied
The New Zealand Farm Forestry Conference starts today. Photo / Supplied

The intricacies of farm forestry are being tabled by Horizons Regional Council at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Conference.

Held in Feilding from today until Monday, this annual event will be hosted by the Middle Districts Farm Forestry Association and is set to cover the challenge of diverse land forms.

Horizons Chairman and Accelerate25 lead team member Bruce Gordon will open the conference. He says land use optimisation is one of the Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan's nine identified opportunities.

"Building on the region's natural advantages, specific activities have been outlined to help unlock potential increased productivity, profitability and sustainability."

He said this direction would strengthen key industries, allowing for more resilience in cases such as global price shocks.

During the first afternoon of the conference, HRC land manager Grant Cooper will speak about how farm forestry could be more successful. He will discuss local issues affecting forestry including the emissions trading scheme, Horizons' One Plan and the benefits of Sustainable Land Use.

"Over half our region's land is classified as hill country. At Horizons we want to support farmers to plant trees on erosion-prone areas where they'll see the greatest benefits, not only to protect vulnerable land but, also to lead to increased productivity."

As part of the sustainable programme, more than 640 Whole Farm Plans covering 481,000 hectares have been created.

Each plan has farm scale soil and land resource information which farmers can use to optimise production in a sustainable way.

"We can help farmers find the optimal use for their soil and also look at potential grants to plant vegetation on this land," Mr Cooper said.

Horizons staff will be hosting a field visit to Goulter's Gully in Pohangina Valley on Saturday to look at an historic erosion feature. Mr Cooper says the gully suffered from severe erosion until the 1970s when forestry trees were planted.

"One full cycle of pine was harvested on this block in 2003 and a second rotation is now growing.

"The effects of planting and harvesting on the land will be presented while there."

- Manawatu Guardian

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