How forestry can keep you in farming
Planting part of the farm in trees guarantees a fallback income for years when the going gets tough with your main farming enterprise
Last year was a difficult year for farming. This year is even more challenging. As I am writing this, drought conditions are putting farmers under severe pressure. The last thing on your mind is making a forestry grant application.
But if you bear with me, there is a logic. Forestry on the farm makes your farm more viable: the forestry premium will provide you with a regular long-term cash injection while the growing on-farm asset (pun intended) provides the funds for future farm investment.
I remember meeting a young farmer many years ago. He wasn't very pleased that his father had planted a forest on the farm until he took over from his father and needed cash to build a new shed. The son has since then expanded their on-farm forest enterprise.
Diversification - not putting all your eggs in the one basket - is always the sensible and cautious thing to do.
That's why I think that now is a good time to consider forestry on the farm. It takes time for the application to be assessed. This will allow the tree planting to take place before the end of the winter. It is a good idea to have all the trees planted by the end of March.
On the contrary, if you apply over the winter, approval may come through very late in the planting season.
This in turn will lead to very late planting and is a high risk strategy leading to high tree mortality. I have flagged the danger of late planting on a number of occasions and sadly enough many late (too late?) planting projects will result in high tree mortality this year.
So, where do you start? Well, your first port of call is your local Forestry Adviser.