Farm forestry options to be presented at annual conference

Horizons Regional Council staff will discuss the complexities of farm forestry at the New Zealand Farm Forestry Conference, to be held in Feilding from April 6-10.

The annual conference is hosted by the Middle Districts Farm Forestry Association and will cover the theme of ‘the challenge of diverse land forms’.

Horizons Chairman and Accelerate25 Lead Team member Bruce Gordon, who will open the conference, says Land Use Optimisation is one of the Manawatu-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’s nine identified opportunities.

“Building on the Region’s natural advantages, specific activities have been outlined to help unlock potential increased productivity, profitability and sustainability. This in turn will add strength to key industries to allow for more resilience in cases such as global price shocks,” says Mr Gordon.

On the first afternoon Grant Cooper, Horizons land manager, will present on farm forestry, outlining how it can be made more successful in today’s environment.

Mr Cooper will discuss the issues affecting forestry in the Region including the emissions trading scheme, Horizons’ One Plan and the benefits of the Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI).

“Over half our Region’s land is classified as hill country. At Horizons we want to support farmers to plant trees on erosion prone areas where they will see the greatest benefits, not only to protect vulnerable land, but also to lead to increased productivity.”

As part of the SLUI programme to date, over 647 Whole Farm Plans covering 481,000 hectares of the Region’s hill country have been created by Horizons. Each of these plans has farm scale soil and land resource information that farmers can use to optimise production in a sustainable way.

“We can help farmers find the optimal use for their soil, and also look at potential grants to plant vegetation on this land. We’re looking forward to the discussions,” says Mr Cooper.

Horizons staff will be hosting a field visit to Goulter’s Gully in the Pohangina Valley on Sunday 9 April to look at an impressive historic erosion feature. Mr Cooper says the gully has suffered from severe erosion, until the 1970’s when forestry trees were planted.

“One full cycle of pine was harvested on this block in 2003 and a second rotation is now growing. The effects of planting and harvesting on the land will be presented while there.”

To find out more about the SLUI programme, land owners can contact Horizons’ land management staff on 0508 800 800. To register for the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association Conference, visit