I’m off college now for a couple of weeks and this means pulling on the boots and wrapping up. Our latest projects at the tree nursery are the planting of forestry plantations.
Currently we are undertaking three, one in Newtown and two in Mountcharles. The one in Newtown is a much smaller one in comparison to the two in Mountcharles and includes a combination of Beech and Sitka Spruce.
The forestry plantations in Mountcharles include a mixture of broadleaves such as Oak, Sycamore and Alder and also includes Sitka Spruce (majority). The inclusion of broadleaves is a key development in the recent forestry plans and the aim is to increases biodiversity levels throughout the overall forestry plantation.
Sitka Spruce are the most commonly used due to their high timber value, their ability to grow in various soil conditions and the possibility of getting returns after 18 years through thinning and overall return in 30 years through clear felling of the forestry plantation.
The broadleaves take a considerable longer time to achieve a return on them (70 years) although a greater market value for the product is achievable.
The process starts three years beforehand when the seed are sown in lazy beds at the tree nursery.
This will be discussed in greater detail in a blog later on in the year when the seed preparation takes place normally around May (Keep an eye out).
Just a quick overview of the process and what’s involved; lazy beds are prepared, seed is sown on top of these beds, and then covered in a fine grit and a mesh is used for protection.
In year two the conifers are then transplanted and lined out in new beds, this is to prevent overcrowding; reducing likelihood of pests and diseases and encourage a better form and shape. The broadleaves are usually maintained in the same bed for the three years.
Year three involves lifting the trees out of the bed during the bare root season (winter months). They are graded to ensure an equal height of trees are planted. They are then bundling into 100’s normally and bagged.
They are placed into bags helping to keep them fresh as planting can take a number of days. It also makes the planting process easier as it allows the plants to be kept together in one bundle.
The process involved in preparing the forestry plantation for planting involves a number of steps.
Firstly the site is assessed by my granddad (a qualified forester).
The following are included, site conditions, site location (consideration for water runoff), soil fertility.
If the site is approved the next step is drainage of the plantation and mounding. So basically drains are pulled in parallel along the drainage flow of the field, the soil that is dug up from the drain is then mounded to allow the trees to be planted into.
The mounds are used to allow the trees to establish as this offers better soil, a free draining platform and a height advantage against weeds.
Thanks for taking the time to read over my second blog. I would be very grateful if anyone has any tips and pointers on what I could change or indeed include in my blogs in the future. Cheers