A turn to timber could boost income
Investing in farm forestry requires a huge commitment and a major change of land use. Before planting, it is vital to learn from others and to look closely at what is happening in the marketplace.
Such is the present demand for timber that virtually all available harvesting contractors are working flat out and have a waiting list of anxious clients.
While most of the wider economy is in crisis, thousands of farmers with mature and semi-mature woodland are justifiably pleased at having made the decision to plant at a time when forestry was not the widespread farm enterprise it is today.
Right now timber prices are reaching record levels and these buoyant market conditions are occurring in the teeth of our worst recession for at least half a century and are further proof of the ever present need for timber and wood-based products.
The wood fuel market is also providing a solid outlet for non-commercial material and after many years of learning by trial and error, a good sensible blueprint for profitable farm forestry is now available.
Up to the mid-1990s we had to find out pretty much everything for ourselves. At that time there were too many inexperienced operators both advising and working as forestry contractors. There was no real back-up to protect farmers, especially the elderly people who often had difficulty seeking second opinions and advice.
Nowadays, however, there is a wealth of excellent and proven information available on all aspects of forestry. Teagasc has done a great job in recent years by producing informative open days and demonstrations, good booklets, and above all, a really first-class website that gives the answers, in simple terms, to all the questions farmers and landowners have when embarking on a forestry project.
Visit www.teagasc.ie/forestry and follow the links, which provide comprehensive information and also direct you to real people who can call to your farm and advise on what is best to plant and where. This site deals with all the frequently asked queries such as how a forest enterprise can improve farm and household income and explains the various timber and non-timber benefits. How to apply for the higher 'farmer' rate of premium, the effect planting will have on other farm schemes and, most importantly, how to get the job done right first time.