Acacia dealbata/mearnsii report

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by permaculture.biz, Jun 12, 2003.

  1. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello People,

    I have just spent the last couple of weeks form and lift (clearwood) pruning about 7000-8000 5 yo Acacia dealbata and mearnsii's at a client's Otways property (tertiary gravel 550mm rainfall). I used a Husqvarna pole saw and associated pruning paraphenalia to do the job - good for the neck!! I wondered if anyone had any experiences with these species or similar in temperate conditions. The next stage is thinning as competition effects are the next issue to deal with. These remarkable species are interrow planted on a keyline layout with Corymbia maculata, Euc. cladocalyx and Euc. camaldulensis. and range in heights from 6-12 metres with diameters at breast height (officially 1300mm - unofficially varies between humans!) between 75-250mm. Higher density stands of 2m spacing between trees generate more early thinnings as competition effects come earlier - From a 1000 tree stand at this spacing we got about 2 m3 of thinnings suitable for firewood. The rest of the trees are at 3m spacings and yielded significantly less. If you are considering growing a woodlot with firewood as a residual product of silviculture this is worth taking notice of. All of the trees are planted on Yeomans plow ripped and mounded ground prep. with no chemical weed control used ever. In response native species have colonised the site in abundance, with the planted trees forming only a small proportion of the total species on site. I devised years ago to only mulch mow every second row leaving the spare row for the native regrowth and as a site for the deposition of prunings. The yield of this material from the last pruning session was considerable and is sure to encourage a range of ecological processes (Fukuoka en masse!) There are three large contour earth banks in the plantation that act as swales in effect. The resulting growth of trees immediately above and below these banks is remarkable - particularly with the Acacia's. Surprisingly the other species of the planting have not responded as well as the acacia's to this situation. We will have our first seed harvest this year as well which we will be using in other plantings on the farm next year.

    Again if anyone else has any silvicultural tales - particularly with wattles please drop a line or two. I'll put up photo's of this recent job on my web site over the next week.

    Yours and Growing,

    DD
     
  2. peony

    peony Junior Member

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    Your post is very interesting, I haven't had much experience with this subject yet ( I am currently in my first year of a Permaculture Dip. Systems Implementation ).

    I have a question though, what is Fukuoka?

    Also, did u get a private message sent from me?
     
  3. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello,

    Fukuoka = Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-??) Japanese natural farmer, microbiologist, author. Inspiring author/farmer of "One Straw Revolution", "The Natural Way of Farming" and "The Road Back to Nature". I first read his three books back in the mid 1980's when I was still on the farm - it was the antithesis of the broadacre sheep farm I can tell you. It led me to Permaculture though.

    He uses and recommends the use of "Black Wattle" - looking at the form in the photos - its definitely Acacia mearnsii. He calls it the "fastest growing member of the pea family" and is better at working the soil than a "bulldozer or dynamite" and builds soil as well.

    Private reply - was done last week - early I think. If you haven't recieved it then let me know and I'll resend it or post the reply to this site given the information may be useful to others.

    Cheers,

    DD
     
  4. Jeff Nugent

    Jeff Nugent Junior Member

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    In my humble opinion both species of Acacia serve as pioneers. Sooner or later (probably sooner they need serious pruning. I have found mearnsii to be a better firewood than dealbata.
    Heavey work with pole saw, makes my neck ache thinking about it.
    Rule of thumb, in most situations is to interplant with long-term species at the same time as planting acacias and selectively prune on an on-going basis so that the acacias are not distorting the shape of the long-term trees
    If you are in a low fire situation, use all of the leaves and small branches as mulch. In a high fire situation I drag them into a heap as long-term compost.
     
  5. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello,

    Heavy Work with Pole Saw:

    Yeah it did hurt my neck - but after a couple of days the pain was no longer there - like most things you haven't done before of for a while - you soon get used to it - generally though I'd prune for a tank a fuel then stop and move the prunings.

    Pruning/Pioneers/Firewood:

    Both species are excellent pioneers and yes they need serious pruning along the way - as do many species if you wish to create sawlogs - as their natural form requires it. The result however is fantastic.

    Provenance has a lot to do with form. I have found that for Ac. mearnsii the best form provenances are Bodalla (NSW); Black Hills Reserve (VIC) and and couple of locally collected remnant stands. With Ac. dealbata the best we've used is Snug (TAS). The Forestry Tasmania report "Evaluation of Acacia dealbata as a plantation species in Tasmania" has trial research suggesting that the best provenances are: Cygnet; Elephant Pass; Snug and Gould's Country - all Tasmanian provenances. The cygnet prov. we are getting for some new work and the provenance details supplied by Forestry Tasmania suggests the following:No branching for 12 metres (!) 600mm+ dph, 25 frosts/year, sawlogs taken for panelling work from stand....


    As firewood yes the Ac. mearnsii is much better and has been traditionally used in bakeries as such. As a timber for furniture both are excellent and saught after - at least by those in the know - Ac. dealbata & Ac. mearnsii dining settings are on sale at the local Harvey Norman and Nicolas Dattner stocks many pieces using these species in his display room. Our king size family bed uses Ac. mearnsii and the delicious Ac. pendula timber in its panel work - which blends wonderfully with the Euc. tricarpa frame.

    Interplanting vs. Interrow

    The plantings mentioned are all what we call interrow plantings. That is Species A in Row 1 then Species B in Row 2. In this case we tried 2 adjacent rows of Acacias then 2-3 rows of Eucalypts (Corymbia maculata, E. cladocalyx, E. microcarpa, E. leucoxylon, E. tricarpa, E. camaldulensis). The first thinning has removed all Acacias that even look like influencing anything else with their triffid like waywardness.

    Fire Risk:

    This is something my client and I have been grappling with. This area at the eastern end of the Otways is like a wick waiting to go off. That has meant we have created vegetation free buffers around the planting, together with establishment of fire resistant species peripherrally (Jeff's cork oak contribution will come in handy here to add to this). At the end of the day however it is an issue between the fact that any Crown fire going thru the district is going to go thru this forest if nature's course takes that direction - in the meantime we are trying to establish soil integrity for the secondry planting of deciduous Quercus species after the harvest of the Acacia's - this being our long term goal. So we're hedging our bets at the same time as taking some internal (minor) risks and working on our peripheral defences. Use of the mulcher (tractor PTO 7') is also a prime stragety as well.

    Another point on this topic that David Holmgren and I have discussed while talking matters Albrechtian (Dr. William Albrecht - US Soil Scientist) is that David believes there is a clear relationship between soil potassium/calcium balances as to the fire proness of an area (ie High potassium:low calcium = high flammable vegetation with the reverse applying). From my experience of over 150 Albrecht tests on our clients properties I would clearly vouch for this thru the vegetative evidence - so the question is how does one cost effectively reduce combat this "imbalance" in a forest situation - what we are doing IMHO will work towards this - particularly when we get to the deciduous Quercus phase. I should have started with oaks in the first place though - as we have on all new plantings on this property over the last few years with this in mind.

    Cheers,

    DD
     
  6. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    Hi all,

    What i am curious about is how much land do you set aside to provide enough fire wood production for an average family?

    my thinking is perhaps a 1/4 acre, but i have nothing to base this on.

    What i understand is that it takes 4 four years to grow these trees before you can copice them?!?, and a year before theyre fully dried.... is this correct and how long would these plants you are talking about last for before they need replacement?

    This isnt necessary for me to know right now but would be a handy thing to keep in mind!

    Thanks in advance

    Dave
     
  7. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello All,

    "Chook Nut" wrote wondering how much area one should devote to firewood production for an average domicile. In a nutshell ultimate consumption levels are directly linked to the consumptive habits of the user and the efficiency of the devices in which the combustion takes place.

    Some people use 10-15/tonnes+ per year then others with solar houses use as little as 5-6t/year. Woodlots can produce around 20/tonnes/ha/year with faster growing eucalypts and acacias. It will take a few years - decades in fact - to get to this level of production however. And is many locales this figure will be much less - much much less.

    I always have had a problem with people growing trees purely for the purpose of fuelwood production. Largely those desirable species for this end use have greater values than that given by firewood. The intent built into all of my client's plantations has been that firewood is supplied as a residual product of silvicultural management - that the end goal is a sustainably harvested multiple use and product forest - where extraction rates are matched or exceeded by annual growth rates - and where higher value products (eg. furniture timber) is the main game. This type of scenario is going to require more land - as the dedicated goal is more complex to achieve and uses more land to acquire it.

    I understand that none of my clients (unfortunately for me!) are in developing countries where the notion of furniture timber production is lofty and out of touch with thier more immediate needs - in such circumstances intensive use of managed coppice/fast grown single use planting provides some promise towards achieving decent firewood production levels - but one has to be satisfied with the use of material (branches, twigs etc.) that most of us here in Australia would just leave to rot on the ground. In any case the firewood will have a high sapwood content and not have as high a calorific value as timber from older stems - the old time issue.

    Ultimately I believe that we should be looking at producing firewood from the management of existing or developing multiple use forests, and that we should be limiting the consumption required by increasing the efficiency of the combustion devices we use.

    Cheers,

    DD
     
  8. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    Thanks for the reply.... I guess what i am looking at is how much land do you need to produce 20 tonnes per annum?

    I think its a better idea to set aside areas of land as timber trees.... what i see a problem of some councils though is them slapping a ban on certain trees though.... this i believe stops a lot of farmers doing this sort of thing with their spare land.....

    So i guess coppicing is the safest way to go, unless you can get gaurentees from local councils.... a lot can happen in 20 years.

    Cheers

    Dave
     
  9. peony

    peony Junior Member

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    About efficient combustion devices...

    at my PDC I was briefly told about the Kang, from China & the Kaffel from Germany. They use the heat very efficiently by sending the heat from a small stick fire through a long tunnel in a big stone box, heating the stone then radiating the heat out into your home to you!

    From my quick diagram from my course notes, the kaffel has cook tops on it as well & collects tree oils through a horizontal part of its chimeny. Kool huh? Or maybe not so kool if u had a kaffel! (oh dear, bad pun, my personality had to come out eventually!)

    Anyone had experience with one? I think I'm gunna look them up & post further info now I've 'kindled' my own interest. Ha ha ha.....on dear :;):

    PS Oh yeah, I didn,t get a reply DD, I'd luv u 2 post the reply for everyone!
     
  10. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello,


    An answer to this question depends on rainfall, soil type etc. To give you a reasonable number - say 5 ha of mixed species forest minimum.
    If you had a mean annual increment (MAI) of 5m3/ha then that is how much timber your trees grow every year. Up your way I would expect that you would be able to easily exceed this figure - especially if you grew something like Ac. melanoxylon or Ac. decurrens - these don't coppice readily so you could interplant them with a fast growing multiple use Eucalypt, say Corymbia maculata (I don't how good a firewood it is though - its dense so I imagine it would be ok) + maybe some others - this type of planting would give you early fuelwood and higher value forest products - and would enable coppice management over the longer term.

    As for the regulatory issues with removing vegetation we have in Victoria a document called a "Plantation Development Notice" This was developed out of concerns with maintaining harvest rights over plantation developments that used native species. I have a proforma of this notice on my web site. I don't know what the status is in other states although I heard that others were looking at adopting Victoria's approach. It makes sense as otherwise there is a large impediment to establishing plantations using native species. I don't know under which act the PDN comes under or whether legally it is simply a "guideline" - it may not at all. Simply one lodges the document (together with a map of property and plantations, species, expected harvest date etc.) with your council making clear your long term intent to harvest - in keeping with the Forests Code of Practice.
    Otherwise lodging a planning permit/development application maybe another way of creating harvest rights. Some sort of management plan may need to be included as part of the application clearly detailing the intended use of the forest. This approach is similar to that often required when undertaking management of existing native vegetation. Talk to your local farm forestry people to get the local drum.

    Good Luck,

    DD
     
  11. Chook Nut

    Chook Nut Junior Member

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    thanks for the reply..... very informative..... i guess its a whole skill in itself to start getting into forestry management from scratch.

    nice to know there is soo much information available

    cheers

    Dave
     
  12. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello,

    If you're real interested in forestry then see if you can do the master tree growers course. https://www.mtg.unmelb.edu.au is where you can contact the honchos. I did part of a part time diploma of forestry at Melb. Uni - then I got too busy (again) to complete it - my client's properties have taught me plenty. The site has excellent books on the subject which are downloadable.

    If you have any other queries I would be glad to help.

    Cheers,

    DD
     
  13. Peter Warne

    Peter Warne Junior Member

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    Tree planting from scratch- a topic which I've been thinking a lot about - but before I can make any moves I'll have to actually get to our block and be living there.

    The big question I'm wondering about is cost - I'm wondering DD if you could give me a rough idea of the sort of money I'll have to put out to turn 6 - 8 acres into some sort of open forest. I will be trying to emphasise low maintenance, and, if the idea is compatible, grass reduction, and maybe someday getting some money back from it. Also, although money is not the main priority, I'd be interested to know how many years it might take to START getting some sort of return.

    I understand that all these questions are wide open and depend completely on a hundred factors including scores of decisions, but the loosest of ball-park figures will help guide my thinking.

    By the way DD your contributions here have been just fantastically informative. I read them greedily and I am going to print them as reference material to have in my bookshelf.

    Peter
    (getting close now to moving into our place in Nimbin - three weeks today, or 21 days, after 9 years in Asia)
     
  14. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hello Peter,

    Thanks for the kind thoughts. I enjoy this forum over all of the others about - this one lack people who talk too much, is practical and lacks the adversarial atmosphere of other lists - lets hope it stays that way and we keep personalities and politics at bay. I was going to set up a forum on my web site but why would I bother when Geoff and Sindhu have done such a great job - Cooperation not competition!!

    I hope the following will help - perhaps too you might wish to travel to our web site (https://www.permaculture.biz) to get more info beyond that to follow (eg. photos, case studies; spreadsheets - development costings, forestry returns models etc:

    1. Tree planting costs - generally it will cost between $AUD2 -$5/tree to establish native vegetation using a contractor - to give you an example I will detail what our clients would get for their money when we did this work (I don't do it anymore -I have contractors who I direct client's to):

    Site Analysis; Survey; Map Production; Plan & Report Production; All Travel; Set Out; Ground Preparation (ripping, cultivation x 2, mounding x 2); Tree, Guard, Stake purchase; Tree, Guard, Stake installation; Watering (x 2)

    You will probably be establishing trees at 3-4 m spacings (both rows and between trees) giving you between 835-1100 trees per hectare - this will come down to between 200-400 trees/ha after thinning works are completed (b/n yrs. 10-20).

    If you can only afford to do the work in stages then get as much of the ground prep. done as possible in one go as this is the most expensive part. You can always plant a portion then tickle up the ground prep. and plant next year - the rip lines stay put!!

    2. Forestry is not low maintenance if you want to get value out of your investment - the more you put into management the higher value the forest. However 5-8000 trees can be managed by one moderately fit and skilled person (easy to learn and adopt skills). Returns on a farm are internal to start with and not necessarily tangible. Positive cashflow comes with the harvest and sale of thinning to production timbers - then the real dough comes with sawlog harvesting. Best policy is to process timber on site (portable mill, air dry, direct market etc.) and my golden rule is "never sell your trees as stumpage!" otherwise you'll never make any money.


    I intend to give snapshop scenarios on my web site (among a million other things) to encourage the business of production permaculture (hence the name).

    Good Luck and I look forward to hearing more.

    Cheers,

    DD
     

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