SFF Project Summary

Project Title: Developing environmentally sustainable pastoral farms from exotic forestry plantations
Grant No.: 04/050

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: Forest to Farming Group
Contact Person: Martin Hawke
Address: 23
Glenroy Place
Brunswick Park
RD 4
Telephone 1: 07 345 9519
Telephone 2:
Facsimile: 07 343 5332
Email: martin.hawke@xtra.co.nz

Project Details

Status: finished
SFF Funding: 156,988
Total Project Funding: 292,441
Proposed Start Date: 2004/07
Proposed Finish Date: 2007/06
Region: Bay of Plenty
Sector: Pastoral
Sub-sector: Dairy
Topic: Soils
Nutrient management
Water quality

Latest Update

Updated:  05 February 2008

Booklet: Forestry to Farming

Project description

The project is about developing guidelines and BMP’s for farmers who are converting forests to pasture.

The issue/opportunity

Large areas of exotic forest in many regions of NZ are being logged and converted into farms. This brings with it environmental concerns and sustainability issues. This projects aims to monitor changes and use farmer experience to develop acceptable practises.

The context/background

Large scale changes of land use, particularly in sensitive catchments could have major implications for the environment. At the same time, these changes must be sustainable and economic for the landowner.


A long term research trial measures soil related changes after conversion to pasture. This project also monitors water quality, pasture, soil fertility and soil fauna surveys to measure changes from this landuse conversion.

Interviews with farmers with experience of conversions will form the basis of the guidelines. Field days and farming press articles will inform farmers and interested people of progress with the project.

Latest Update: March 2007

Considerable work is being done on the Guidelines booklet.

Farm monitoring is on schedule & final soil samples have been taken.

An abstract for a paper presentation at NZ Grasslands Conference, 2007 has been submitted.

Results from Massey University Sensing project were presented at the Fertiliser & Lime Research Centre Workshop (Designing Sustainable Farms) in February

Quarterly Update: October 2006

Indigenous Forest Establishment workshops continue to be held; in this period at Rotorua and Otorohanga. The programme for remaining workshops in this funding period is now complete. TheTrust would be pleased to hear from any organizations interested in workshops after the 30th June. Please contact Ian Barton at ibtrees@wc.net.nz ; 09 239 2049 or writing to PO Box 1169, Pukekohe.

Free copies of the Proceedings of the 2003 seminars on the taxation and Resource Management Act impacts on planted indigenous forests are still available by contacting Ian Barton at ibtrees@wc.net.nz ; 09 239 2049 or writing to PO Box 1169, Pukekohe.

Work on the Continuous Cover Forestry manual is continues and the opportunity was taken during a private visit to UK to look at CCF forests and talk to CCF researchers there. Some interesting new information has been obtained.

June 2006

Group meeting - May

We welcomed Allan Campbell (EW) as a substitute for Ross Abercrombie for this meeting. The meeting discussed several items: finances, field day report, Lincoln/Selwyn PB field day report, guideline plan and objectives for 2006/07.

Research component

The Massey University team visited our monitor farms in May and undertook several measurements. These are being calibrated, evaluated and the equipment modified as required. They plan a further visit in October. Soil fauna sampling was conducted in May and the results suggest this is a good indicator of soil health and fauna changes after conversion.

Autumn field day

A successful field day was held on April 27th at the Berg’s property, Atiamuri. Approx. 100 people attended. The draft guideline booklet was available. Major topics were the successful conversion on the property, financial issues and environmental considerations. The day was organized by Dexcel field officers in our group.

BMP guidelines

The guideline booklet was a huge effort by group members, particularly Mike Wheadon. It was well received at the field day and the format of the completed document is being considered.

March 2006

Group meeting - March

There was a good turn out of group members and we welcomed Amy Taylor (EBOP representative ) and Mark Julian (Rotorua Dexcel officer) to our group. The meeting concentrated on the BMP guideline booklet, field day planning and results from farm monitoring.

Farm Monitoring

Pasture results from slopes are providing good comparative data.

EBOP visited the water quality sampling sites with me at Manawahe in March and they are very supportive of this programme. Interestingly, this data set has been used to allay concerns of a downstream farmer over the effects of logging on water quality

Soil samples were collected from the monitor paddocks at the February visit

BMP guidelines

Survey results and contributions from group members are being collated for a draft guideline booklet, to be handed out at our April field-day. Mike Wheadon has taken on the task of collating this information.

December 2005

Forest to Farming Group

Group meeting – December

There was a full turn out of group members and we welcomed Ross Abercrombie of EW to our group. This period has been a busy one with progress on several fronts.

Farm Monitoring

A good data set is being gathered and the information is being sought by third parties – this suggests that forest to farm conversions are being analysed and decisions made regarding conversions on different land classes.
As a results of concerns with the economics of converting steep slopes to pasture, exclusion cages have now been positioned in two locations on slopes >25°.

BMP guidelines

While there has been a disappointing response to our questionnaire, there were sufficient replies for draft guidelines to be made and with contacts through our group, other information is now available. A draft guideline booklet is being prepared at present for distribution at our autumn field day.

September 2005

Forest to Farming Group

Group meeting – July

The main items were to review the Field Day and plan for the 2005/06 year. The project is going well with good feedback from farmers.

Farm Monitoring

Pasture cuts and water samples were taken in August and September. Logging has taken place adjacent to the stream monitoring sites at Tokoroa and Manawahe, so all three locations have areas in the conversion phase.

Massey University Proposal

Massey University was unsuccessful in their application for funding a development project. However, they are continuing with the development of techniques that hopefully will be field tested on our monitor farms later this summer.

Questionnaire on BMP’s

The group has been busy editing the questionnaire. It has been sent to the field day participants and completed forms are tricking in. Mike Wheadon is collating the responses.


• EW has nominated Ross Abercrombie to represent them on our group. We look forward to his active participation.


Milestones 1 & 2 for year two have been met. Milestone 3 (Economic analysis) is being discussed at present and milestone 4 has been delayed until December. The questionnaire is in addition to the original milestones.

June 2005

Field day

A very successful field day was held on Kevin Goodman’s conversion on May 19th. About 130 people (80% farmers) attended and by all accounts, the day was well received. The publicity by way of farming press articles and interviews was very satisfying. A follow up newsletter has not progressed at this stage.
A participant’s attendance list was completed by about 70 people. This will form the basis of communication for our survey and any newsletters.
There was an excellent response from our group members to the FD organization.
We appreciated the financial assistance from BNZ and Hodder & Taylor Ltd and the marquee from Ballance Agri-nutrients Ltd.

Farm Monitoring

Pasture cuts and water samples were taken in mid-April and early June. The year’s results will be summarized over the next few weeks.

Soil Fauna survey

The third monitor farm was completed in April and the report is due to be received.