Southern Cross University’s Forest Research Centre is seeking landholders willing to collaborate in establishing field trials.
These trials are aimed at testing the benefits of different agricultural production systems that include trees and forests.
Lecturer from the School of Environmental Science, Dr Graeme Palmer said: “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.”
“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.”
“Our 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 agro-forestry 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.
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.