Well-placed trees can help protect soil, reduce input costs and build resilience against droughts and flooding.
Planting trees as shelterbelts and on marginal land can make a significant difference to your business’ long-term productivity, without taking large areas of land. And there are subsidised trees and help available to help you gain these benefits.
Nottinghamshire farmer James Thomas has witnessed the value of trees first-hand. He said:
“We’ve found weather events have become increasingly extreme and intense in nature, be it heavy downpours of rain or damaging gusts of wind. There have been instances where we could literally see our soil leaving the farm and once that has happened, we’ve lost it forever.”
To combat the problem, James, assisted by the Woodland Trust, started planting trees in long belts and in awkward corners, targeting areas most prone to erosion. The trees now protect topsoil from wind erosion and slow down water during heavy downpours, reducing flooding and keeping inputs out of watercourses. By encouraging infiltration, trees also help keep water in their aquifer for later use irrigating their sandy soil. As the trees are thinned, they provide a source of woodfuel for a biomass burner.
James strongly encourages others to follow his lead:
“We found that the land most exposed to the elements and most at risk to erosion was least productive for us. We have not limited farm productivity but enhanced adjoining land by creating a more stable microclimate for crops on our light land to flourish. It has also become a powerful and positive statement to our local community affirming our commitment to the environment, to wildlife and to the local scenery.”
© NFU 2018