Thursday 25 May 2006
A Powys farmer has taken a blueprint in sustainable farm management full cycle, growing his own trees from locally collected seeds in compost developed from rotted animal bedding, itself derived from woodchip from his hedgerows.
Farmer Aled Morris’ local provenance tree nursery is just the latest chapter in the success story of a group of 10 neighbouring farming families based near Llanfair Caereinion in Powys.
Acting co-operatively, over the past 14 years the Pont Bren group of farmers have taken the initiative in adopting less intensive, more sustainable farming systems. This long-term project has been supported by Glasu, the LEADER+ rural development programme for Powys.
Said Lee Price, project manager with Glasu : “ Early on the Pont Bren farmers recognised that their hedgerows and woodlands, as well as providing shelter for livestock, offered many under-utilised resources, including native tree seed and woodchip from brash. Developed in combination these low value resources had potential to create whole farm benefits greatly exceeding the sum of their individual values.”
With help from Coed Cymru, the Pont Bren group were able to successfully develop animal bedding from woodchip made from hedgerow brash. A cheaper alternative to straw, the woodchip bedding saves each farm around £5000 per year and reduces transport-related pollution.
More recently, Glasu and Coed Cymru have worked together to add value to the rotted animal bedding, developing it as a compost product for use by horticultural enterprises.
As a result Aled Morris is now able to use his own farm-produced compost to grow native tree seed harvested from the farm’s woodland and hedgerows. He plants out the resulting local provenance tree seedlings in hedgerows and shelterbelts on the farm, saving up to £2000-3000 a year on the cost of buying in planting stock as well as reducing transport costs and associated carbon dioxide emissions.
Developing a tree nursery was one of the early priorities of the Pont Bren’s strategy for a sustainable farming system. However, with much of the land above 250m, there was a poor survival rate for tree seedlings grown from seed collected from very different areas (either lowland UK or continental Europe). That lesson stressed the importance of using local provenance trees.
“Evidence from a wide variety of challenging, upland sites confirms planting trees grown from locally collected seed is essential, ensuring they are they are better adapted and more likely to thrive” said David Jenkins of Coed Cymru.
“Getting hold of local provenance trees was problematic back in 2002 and the shortage in supply highlighted the opportunity to diversify into tree nursery production.” says Aled, who, as the nursery develops, plans to supply seedlings to other farmers in the group and longer term, to sell them to a wider local market.
The benefit of using local provenance trees is increasingly recognised by many agencies who now specify their use in grant funded tree-planting. Glasu’s Tree Nurseries of Powysproject is an attempt to fulfil the demand in Mid-Wales. Supported by Forestry Commission Coed Cymru, Countryside Council for Wales and Powys County Council, the project highlights the opportunity to grow local provenance trees through grants, advice, training and support for marketing and collaboration.
Glasu’s project’s coordinator, Cliff Webb said: “There is a large, stable and growing market for local provenance trees. Aled has shown that farmers are ideally placed to meet this demand, whether by supplying their own planting needs or, as they gain confidence and expertise, by expanding to supply others commercially.”
In addition to the economic benefits to the Pont Bren farmers, changes to land use, such as reduced stocking rate and tree planting, have had wider environmental benefits. Research by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has shown effects on reducing flood risk, stabilising summer water flow and reduced pollution, all with far reaching consequences further downstream in the River Severn catchment.
So, whether examined on a farm scale or on wider river catchment basis, the project is truly sustainable, with economic and environmental gains inextricably linked.
For further information please contact:
Sharon Chilcott, PR consultant to Glasu, tel: 01989 770199 (mob 07990 765351)
Cliff Webb or Lee Price, Glasu, tel: 01982 552224
David Jenkins, Coed Cymru, tel: 01686 650777
Aled Morris, tel: 01938 810345 (early morning, lunchtimes and evenings)
Farmer Aled Morris with some of his local provenance tree saplings.
Note to Editors:
Glasu is the LEADER+ Programme in Powys. It has a theme of adding value to local natural products and works with people who have project ideas at grassroots level.
LEADER+ is a European Union funded programme to promote the development of rural areas. Its aim is to encourage and help rural areas to think about the longer-term potential of their area. It seeks to encourage the implementation of integrated, high-quality, original strategies for sustainable development based upon innovative approaches towards rural development.
The LEADER+ programme receives European funding via the Welsh European Funding Office, part of the Welsh Assembly Government.
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|Research Visit for Powys Tree Nurseries|
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|Blueprint in sustainable farm management|
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