FARM TOUR: A Southern Cross University forestry class at a property near Nimbin belonging to Super Forest Plantations. The farm is being transitioned from grazing to wood production. Photo: Supplied
FARM TOUR: A Southern Cross University forestry class at a property near Nimbin belonging to Super Forest Plantations. The farm is being transitioned from grazing to wood production. Photo: Supplied

How you can help create forest research

LONG-TERM land management and the impact of water and nutrients in a rural landscape is the current focus of a local research team.

Southern Cross University's Forest Research Centre is seeking landholders willing to collaborate in establishing field trials by offering a little land in exchange for big research.

School of Environmental Science lecturer Dr Graeme Palmer said these trials are aimed at testing the benefits of different agricultural production systems that include trees and forests.

"In this region a lot of people have property. They might be macadamia farmers, or graziers, who have additional land available that isn't suited to those primary activities," he said.

"We're wanting to trial planting trees on that land, using different methods, to see if it is complimentary to their business and could potentially produce a secondary income stream or add value in some way."

Dr Palmer said the aim is to gather data to work out if there are benefits to this type of farming - such as enhancing property value, providing tourism opportunities, providing shelter for animals or protecting the landscape - and what value can be gained by adding this agroforestry aspect to the overall business.

The target region for the proposed research is the Richmond River catchment, and the range of environments the catchment includes.

He said the work itself is about measuring the fate of water and nutrients in the rural landscape, how these may be managed using physical and biological approaches including forests, and if these can be managed better over the long-term cycles of climate, such as drought and flood, to lift farm production.

The study will also be looking to discover the impact when water or nutrients enter the farm as rainfall or fertiliser and what happens after that.

Other questions include whether water infiltrates the soil and becomes available for plant growth or runs off to the creek, taking nutrient with it.

Any interested landholders who would like more information are encouraged to attend an information session on Thursday, March 5 from 10am to 3pm at Southern Cross University, A Block, Military Road, Lismore.

Alternatively for more information email Dr Palmer at graeme.palmer@scu.edu.au or visit www.scu.edu.au/forest-research-centre.


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