Engineered Woodlands - Field Day


Approximately 50 landholders and interested residents from the region, recently attended an engineered woodlands field day held at Justin and Lorroi Kirkby’s property “Glen Avon”, Gravesend. The Engineered Woodlands Project, whose catchwords are “Engineered woodlands – agriculture, timber, environment”, aims to promote a land use that integrates the growing of native trees for carbon and timber within normal agriculture on farms. The theme of the field day was “Carbon-rich agricultural systems” and a number of speakers talked on the benefits of increasing carbon in the soils and vegetation of farmland.

The morning session, held in the Glen Avon woolshed, consisted of presentations from the project coordinator, a soil scientists, local landholders managing their land for improved carbon and from trees-on-farms specialists.

A highlight was the talk by Dr. Brian Wilson from the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change on soil carbon. Brian gave an excellent summary of the history of climate change and the current national and international response to global warming including the relevance of the Kyoto treaty. He then related the results of his recent research on soil carbon in the region. His messages for local farmers were: enterprise management changes (e.g. the adoption of minimum till in cropping) only increase soil carbon levels very slowly but that any increase corresponds to improvements in farm productivity and sustainability; the best way to greatly improve soil carbon levels is to change agricultural land use (e.g. changing from cropping to perennial pasture); and that incorporating trees into the system is the quickest way of sequestering carbon in the landscape.

Bingara grazier, Garry McDouall, gave an inspirational talk on the improvements on his property due to changes in his management in the last 15 years. The changes include a focus on profitability rather than a production focus, and changes in property management aimed at working with nature rather than against it. He demonstrated dramatic improvements in pasture and range condition through better grazing management which concentrates on getting the most out of the native pasture base and improving ground cover and soil condition to optimize the use of all rainfall. Soil carbon levels are increasing on his property as a result of the changes.

David Thompson and Shane Andrews of the Northern Inland Forestry Investment Group discussed the current state of the timber and carbon markets and the opportunities for landholders of the region. They indicated that the looming reduction in historical timber supply from native forests in NSW due to increased reservation of
the public estate and regulation of private native forestry could provide opportunities for farm grown timber. Regional farm tree species trials indicate that River Red Gum, Chinchilla White Gum and Mugga ironbark show promise as farm grown timber trees. These species will form the basis of the slopes plantings of engineered woodland demonstration sites. They also discussed carbon markets and whilst a national carbon credit scheme is under development there already exists a NSW Greenhouse gas abatement scheme. This scheme is currently accessible to tree growing farmers via the Landcare Australia program “carbonSMART”.

The afternoon session was held at a 20 ha engineered woodlands demonstration site being established on “Glen Avon”. The ex cropping paddock has recently been sown down to sub-tropical pastures and is soon to be planted out to belts of native timber trees established approximately on the contour every 50m or so across the paddock. Justin Kirkby gave a talk relating the paddock history and his aspirations for the paddock which include improvements to the pasture and soil conditions and also a large improvement to shade and shelter. Demonstrations on ground preparation and tree planting were given by staff from Fields Native Nursery during a brief downpour of rain. This was followed by an informative presentation by Bob McGufficke (NSW
Department of Primary Industries) on the establishment practice and variety choices of sub-tropical pastures.

“Glen Avon” is the home property of the Amarula Dorper stud. Dorper sheep were on display during the lunch time session and most attendees agreed that the lunch of Dorper lamb steak sandwiches capped off a most informative day. Funding from the Border Rivers/ Gwydir Catchment Management Authority and the Northern Inland Forestry Investment Group made the field day and the engineered woodland project possible. For more information go to and use the forestry link.

Project co-funded by Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA, Namoi CMA, and Northern Inland Forestry Investment Group.

Fifteen landholders have agreed to become part of the project with trial sites ranging from 10 ha to 40 ha. They are located at Kentucky, Wollun, Woolbrook, Uralla, Armidale and Guyra on the tablelands, and at Duri, Loomberah, Gunnedah, Bingara, Gravesend and Inverell on the slopes and plains. In total there will be more than 250 ha of new Engineered Woodlands in the region.

For further information relating to Engineered Woodlands, Shane Andrews Project Coordinator, Northern Inland Forestry Investment Group, can be contacted on 0427 753 808.

Case Studies of Recently Completed Projects/events

Case Study - 'Let's Bust It'

Case Study - Mythbusting Organics

Case Study - Upper Bingara Riparian Restoration





   Farms in Focus


The farms in focus brochurs have been developed to showcase some of the interesting and unknown activites that families and businesses have undertaken throughout the Gwydir region. Take a look at what has been going on in our area...




 Increasing Carrying Capacity: Ian and Debora Armstrong, 'Arabanoo', Bingara NSW >> PDF




  Rejuvenating Beaufort: John and Jill Herring, 'Beaufort', Bingara NSW >> PDF 




  There Has To Be a Better Way: Ran and Jenny Mitchell, 'Leyland', North Star, NSW  >> PDF




  Maintaining The Balance: Don, Gay and Jason Mack, 'Mitiamo' and 'Berrybank', Bingara, NSW  >> PDF




A Showcase of Future Agriculture: The Living Classroom, Bingara, NSW >> PDF

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