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For the birds and the bees!

Last winter we planted around 300 native trees and shrubs around our waterways. We have been chipping away at our riparian planting and protecting our waterways, since we bought our farm in 2007. Most of our waterways are fenced off now and there is some regeneration happening, where birds spread seeds from established areas of native bush on the farm. We speed the process up by purchasing native seedlings and planting them ourselves.

Above L–R: Charlie helping to release native seedlings that we planted in a steep and erosion prone corner of a paddock; Native seedlings growing well, protected from hares and rabbits with tree guards and wool around their base to suppress weeds and fertilise them.

This winter we will also be doing some tree planting for shade and shelter. We began this process two years ago, with the planting of some large tree varieties, in our 'house paddocks'. We planted Italian Alders, which are great for fixing Nitrogen in the soil. We also chose other tree varieties, such as Copper Beech and Silver Lime, for their large umbrella like shape that casts a lot of shade.

We have to position our trees very carefully and make sure that they are fully fenced off from the bulls (and our pet goat!) We usually choose corners of paddocks, so that it is easier to fence off without losing large areas of grazing land and the tree then provides shade and shelter across two or three different paddocks, when mature.

Above L–R: An Italian Alder that we planted in 2018, growing well despite the high winds at the top of this hill paddock; A Copper Beech that we planted in 2018. I love the colour of these trees and in 10 years or so it will create a lovely big canopy for the animals to shelter under.

I am considering selecting some tree varieties that provide additional food for the animals this year, such as pin oaks (acorns) , apple and walnut trees and plums. We can have quite severe winds here in the colder months though, so you have to choose wisely and make sure that the tree variety will enjoy our climate and soil type. So far the Italian Alders are growing the best of all the trees I planted in 2018 and I love the concept that they improve the soil by fixing Nitrogen through their roots also.

We are also looking at retiring some large gullies on our farm and planting up with native trees. So I am currently investigating funding options for that work, as it is certainly not something that we can afford to do off our own backs. Fortunately, with the current drive to improve biodiversity and water quality, there is some funding available but it can be tricky to get your hands on it.....fingers crossed!

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