SFF Project Summary

Project Title: Poplars and willows for environmental management and fodder
Grant No.: 04/089

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: National Poplar and Willow Users Group
Contact Person: Grant Douglas
Address: AgResearch Grasslands
Private Bag 11008
Palmerston North
Telephone 1: 06 351 8072,
Telephone 2: 06 356 8019
Facsimile: 06 351 8032
Email: grant.douglas@agresearch.co.nz

Project Details

Status: Finished
SFF Funding: 323,071
Total Project Funding: 1,470,893
Proposed Start Date: 2004-07
Proposed Finish Date: 2007/06
Region: Manawatu, Wairarapa, Southland, Hawkes Bay
Sector: Pastoral
Sub-sector: Sheep
Topic: Feed & forage
Animal health & welfare
Nutrient management

Website: www.hortresearch.co.nz/index/page/549
Latest Update  
PW News: June 2007 [PDF versionPDF  380K]
December 2006 [PDF versionPDF  774K]
June 2006 [PDF versionPDF  1.2M]
December 2005 [PDF versionPDF  468K]
June 2005 [PDF versionPDF  359K]
January 2005 [PDF versionPDF  390K]
Booklet: Growing Poplar and Willow Trees on Farms [PDF versionPDF  1.32M]
Updated: 24 October 2007

Project description

This project aims to integrate poplar and willow into livestock farm systems for multiple goals particularly nutrient management, supplementary fodder, and sustainable control of parasites in lambs, in addition to their well established roles of soil conservation, shelter and shade. The project team comprises farmers and regional council land managers in the lower North and South Islands, with technical support from Massey University, CRIs, and consultants.

The main components of the project are the development of a Planting and Management Plan for poplar and willow on farms. Much of this information is widely dispersed and this project will collate it, and add relevant new findings. Appropriate management will be defined for special-purpose tree-pasture systems (coppice, pollard, and browse blocks). The effect of willows on water and nutrient patterns will be determined for an established browse block. The team will also investigate the potential of willows in a tree-pasture system for controlling parasites, followed by studying the effect of willow on hogget reproductive performance (co-funded by Meat and Wool New Zealand). Cost-benefit analyses will be conducted for tree-pasture systems. Demonstration trials will include existing trees of various ages and established browse and pollard blocks on farms, and new plantings. Project findings will be communicated through a regular newsletter, PWNews, farming magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, field days, and a website.

Problem/opportunity that the project is addressing

Many old poplar and willow trees have become too big to manage effectively and this will become an increasing problem as many thousands of trees age. It is vital to determine what to do with these trees and this project will develop robust guidelines on optimum tree management and future planting patterns.

An option for sheep/beef farms with boggy areas is to establish tree-pasture systems, which have dual roles of increasing feed supply and environmental enhancement. On intensive dairy farms where effluent management is an increasing issue, alternative/complementary methods to the commonly used method of spray irrigation of effluent on to pasture are required. Tree-pasture systems offer potential environmental benefits and supplementary fodder supply on smaller areas of land than required by all-pasture systems.

Progress to date

In spring 2004, a coppice block trial was established on a dairy farm in Otago, and pollarding treatments have been imposed on established poplars on an Otago sheep and beef farm. A parasite control trial at Massey University’s Riverside Farm began in December. A database of farmers and regional council participants, and other interested parties, is being developed, and website development has commenced.

Related web pages Tree Fodder project (www.hortresearch.co.nz/projects/fodder) Dairy effluent project (www.hortresearch.co.nz/projects/dairy effluent) The Willow and Poplar Research Collective (www.hortresearch.co.nz/wprc/)

Latest Update: March 2007

  1. A paper on using willow browse blocks for drought protection and management of internal parasites was presented at the November 2006 annual conference of the NZ Grassland Association in Dunedin.
  2. Issue No. 5 of the project’s PWNews newsletter was distributed to 250+ participants in December06 and loaded on to the project’s website at www.hortresearch.co.nz/index/page/549
  3. Articles on two project participants featured in the farming section of The Dominion Post in January and February 2007.
  4. Further reviews of drafts of the booklet on planting and management guidelines for poplar and willow on farm were conducted by project participants (farmers, regional council staff, consultants, scientists). Final reviewing is nearly complete and it is now being prepared for printing as an A5 booklet with colour cover.
  5. Economic analyses/models of systems involving pollarded trees, browse blocks and coppiced trees for nutrient stripping, based mostly on case studies in the project, were refined.
  6. In Otago, on-going work on commercial farms continued to determine 1) the responses of poplars to pollarding and 2) practical options for using willow to manage dairy effluent disposal.
  7. Experiments determining nutrient and sediment loadings in poplar and willow browse blocks were completed at Massey University’s Riverside Farm, Wairarapa, and at a site at the Palmerston North campus. The key findings were reduced soil moisture, runoff, sediment and nutrient losses in willow-pasture and poplar-pasture systems compared with open-pasture.
  8. The last of the sheep grazing trials at Massey University’s Riverside Farm was completed, and data add to the considerable amount of information collected at the site on grazing responses on willow browse blocks with respect to various aspects e.g. reproductive performance, hogget mating, and parasite management.

Quarterly Update: October 2006

June 2006

PWNews Issue no. 4 was distributed to 200+ people.

Articles were published in Tree Grower (2) and Growing Today (1); other publicity in CADB's June newsletter, and in press/radio

Field days were held in central Hawke's Bay and Otago.

A presentation to the annual conference of Tree Crops Association was held in Masterton.

Planting & Management Plan guidelines and economic analyses updated.

March 2006

December 2005

September 2005

June 2005

to March 2005

The draft economic models for browse, pollard and coppice blocks have been prepared, and are being fine-tuned in discussion with farmers and other project participants.

The project's website is now operational at www.hortresearch.co.nz/index/page/549