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Direct seeding of trees into an arable field - WD0106

Description
The cost of planting a new farm woodland can be high, recent estimates ranging from £135/ha (Insley, 1988) to £1600-2400/ha (Nix, 1993) for broadleaved trees. These costs are based upon traditional establishment methods involving hand planting of tree transplants and spot-treatment with herbicides. Substantial reductions in cost could potentially be made by maximising the use of available farm machinery, therefore minimising labour requirements.

Direct seeding of trees into an arable field would greatly reduce labour costs, and lower the cost of planting material. If seedling trees could be successfully established beneath a commercial arable crop the economics of tree establishment would be changed so substantially that the farm woodland option became a much more attractive one to many farmers.

Direct seeding is a technique which is little used for woodland establishment in the UK, although it is acceptable to the forestry Authority for Woodland Grant Scheme payments are presumably, therefore, also acceptable for MAFF`s Farm woodland premium scheme. Ex-arable sites are likely to provide much more suitable condition (with better drainage, relatively well-structured and fertile soils, and well-cultivated seed-beds) than more typical forestry sites.

The possibility of sowing tree seed at the same time as drilling an arable crop should provide added impetus to the need for proper scientific evaluation of direct seeding techniques for farm woodlands.

The possibility of sowing tree seed at the same time as drilling an arable crop should provide added impetus to the need for proper scientific evaluation of direct seeding techniques for farm woodlands.

Seeding trees with an arable crop is a technique used in south-east Asia (taungya) for establishing teak woodland after agricultural cropping. One UK company is promoting similar methods for British farmers, but currently there would appear to be no sound research information to support widespread use of this technique.
Objective
To evaluate the feasibility of direct-seeding trees into an arable field immediately before drilling a combinable crop. To compare establishment and growth of tree seedlings beneath three arable cover crops and in two subsequent years. To measure any effects of tree-seeding, and the necessary modification of standard pesticide programmes (to minimise risks to the tree seedlings), on crop yields. To compare two post-harvest tree management regimes, monitoring tree growth and weed infestations.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1993

To: 1997

Cost: £139,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
              
Fields of Study
Farm Woodlands