Saturday 24 August 2013

Farm Tree Planting Together is FUN

Planting Farm Trees.

Planting farm trees is best when you plant with community friends. I had a great day tree planting in a wetland area on farm with 30 new friends. It was really fun! So much fun that I will continue to invite the community rather than using contractors.

The environment and protecting the quality of our rivers & streams is a community responsibility. Farms need to engage their local communities in helping to plant trees,  Trees that are aesthetically beautiful, trees that are ECO-Sourced, trees for bees, trees that reduce N leaching.

What few farmers appreciate is that the community want to help, they enjoy planting trees, they enjoy planting trees with their children and they like having fun together. Isnt that great….a community having fun together! WOW!
We invited members of our community to come & help plant trees. Horizons the local Regional Council has been involved from the start & have been very helpful to get ECO-Sourced trees from the local region & trees at a reasonable price. 
We invited Massey University Young Farmers to join us as a fund was exciting having all ages working together for the good of the community & the environment.

We plan to plant a total of 20 hectares (17%) in trees out of a total 120 hectares. Some of you might think that is a very big percentage of a pasture based dairy farm? We are planting areas near waterways, riparian planting along rivers & streams. Also due to Nitrate leaching risks we are changing the land use (away from grazing to trees & cropping) based on a NZ system of land classification.

25% of farm area into habitat planting in UK
There is an opportunity here to move away from selling commodities and to add value before the milk leaves the farm. Tracing the product's provenance from farm to fridge needs to be talked about much more in NZ. Factors such as Biodiversity, wildlife, water quality are attributes that could add value to dairy products that are sold in China, India & the EU. There are schemes such as LEAF in the UK and ECO-PLAN (Marks & Spencers in UK) where animals must graze pasture. Farmers in the Netherlands are paid premiums if their dairy cows graze pasture.
Waitrose, UK supermarkets & Dairy Crest (Milk Processors) have introduced a scheme to reward dairy farmers who plant trees on 25% of their farms.

This independently monitored scheme measures habitat levels and species numbers, as well as providing expert advice on enhancing wildlife habitat. The results achieved have been exceptional with the average level of habitat over 25% of the total farm area. There have also been many successful species improvements. Waitrose Wildcare Program  

 The aim is to encourage farms to operate more efficiently whilst addressing consumer requirements for quality and sustainability. The standards will require that suppliers undertake a regular carbon footprint of their dairy operation. They also expect farms to recognise their role as custodians, and consider potential opportunities to enhance the countryside (e.g. via the planting of trees, hedgerows, management of water resources and/or direct engagement with environmental stewardship schemes).

There are some excellent NZ dairy farmers making a real effort to protect the waterways by planting trees.

Old Carpet for weed control

It is important to protect young trees when you are planting on farms. We used old carpet...a local company would have paid to dump this waste material.....we got it delivered to the farm. Hopefully carpet  waste materials will retain moisture & reduce weeds & the need for chemicals.
What do you think?