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Trees Work – supporting productivity on your farm 01 May

Shelter belts can improve crop/pasture water regimes in times of drought by slowing wind speeds and helping to protect soils from wind and water erosion in times of flooding. Research has shown that a shelter belt of trees can improve wheat yields by 3.5% - more in dry years - by improving crop water efficiency and improving water infiltration by 60 times – just three years after planting tree shelterbelts. Around 2.2 million tonnes of top soils are eroded each year, planting trees across contours or in areas known to be vulnerable can minimise erosion caused by both wind and heavy rainfall. Shelter belts also benefit local wildlife as they provide habitats for pollinators and act as highways to guide them across the farm.

Riparian planting can help capture diffuse pollution and slow the speed of water flows in time of flooding. An estimated 25% of phosphates and 50% of nitrates in rivers are from agricultural sources. Trees act as nutrient sinks, trapping pollutants and help stabilise riverbanks. It has been shown that 99% of subsurface nitrate can be captured by a grass/tree buffer, the majority in the first 5 metres.

Planting trees on unproductive corners of land, along field boundaries and within fields to provide shade and shelter can help protect animals from heat stress and wind chill , boosting feed conversion and reproduction rates. They can help improve stock management by keeping stock out of wet areas and reducing the likely incidence of ailments such as foot rot and liver fluke and aid stock movement. Trees planted around livestock housing can reduce ammonia emissions by 10% as well as reducing noise pollution and the visual impact on the local landscape.

Trees can also provide additional or alternative sources of income for your farming business be it from wood fuel, game, timber as well as more innovative solutions such tree fodder and agroforestry schemes.

Are you interested in tree planting on your farm? The Woodland Trust is working in partnership with farmers across the country to study the effects of strategic tree planting on farms. Our Woodland Creation Advisors have years of experience of advising landowners on the benefit of trees and can provide free advice and support providing; a whole farm tree planting assessment, design of a planting scheme and identification of potential funding support (trees / guards) and then working with you over the subsequent years to monitor the results. To find out more about this opportunity to increase the tree cover on your farm, please contact 01476 452356 or e-mail woodlandcreation@woodlandtrust.org.uk

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