Farm­ers glad they branched out

Gray Baldwin proves that forestry and farm­ing can go hand in hand. Pet­rice Tar­rant re­ports

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO -

Not many dairy farm­ers can say they have a pine for­est har­vest up their sleeves as su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

But Gray and Mar­i­lyn Baldwin have been break­ing the mould ever since they be­gan plant­ing forests on the slopes of their Pu­taruru dairy farm.

Gray said he headed into forestry af­ter at­tend­ing a New Zealand Farm Forestry As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing more than 20 years ago.

In 1994 he planted 14 hectares of pi­nus ra­di­ata, or ‘‘good old pine’’, as he called it. The idea was to har­vest the trees af­ter the nor­mal 27-year growth cy­cle and they are now only about five years off that point.

But his dab­ble in forestry did not stop there. In 2003 the cou­ple bought 19ha of Carter Holt Har­vey land which was al­ready planted with pine.

‘‘Then we thought hmmm, we can do bet­ter than that [pine].’’ Gray’s first foray in ‘‘ex­otic’’ trees

Gray and Mar­i­lyn Baldwin are reap­ing the benefits of plant­ing forests on the slopes of their Pu­taruru dairy farm. was the plant­ing of a red­wood for­est in 2004.

Na­tive trees now sub­merge the cou­ple’s drive­way, pro­vid­ing a much more pleas­ant smell on ar­rival than many dairy farms.

The aes­thetic ap­peal has been what Mar­i­lyn loves most.

‘‘The hard work went in years ago and now we are reap­ing the benefits, It’s the beauty of sit­ting on the deck and see­ing the trees grow, that’s what I love,’’ she said.

Gray, who was born on the fam­ily farm, said he was more about the money.

He said the re­al­ity is that trees on sidel­ings and steep slopes give a bet­ter re­turn than lazy, un­co­or­di­nated cows.

‘‘We prob­a­bly lost two-three cows a year get­ting in­jured on hills, now we don’t lose any.’’

The money was not the only perk, as Gray has dis­cov­ered.

Prun­ing was al­most as good as a gym work out and it pro­vided a bit of va­ri­ety from milk­ing 450 cows, he said.

The pair must have seen more than dol­lars when they planted trees which they knew they would not live to see the har­vest of.

Five of the 187ha have been daz­zled with kauri trees.

‘‘That’s a very very long-term com­mer­cial for­est.

‘‘It will take 180 years to grow them out to har­vest. We see that as a fam­ily her­itage.’’

Gray said it was the only com­mer­cial kauri for­est he knows of in the coun­try and ‘‘lon­gi­tu­di­nally speak­ing’’, the kauri were equal to the south­ern­most kauri tree known in New Zealand, which is in the Kaimais.

‘‘We are sur­prised at how well they’re do­ing in the South Waikato.’’

In 2004 the cou­ple planted 4ha of Ja­panese larch; hazelnut trees line many of the pad­dock fences, and they have an­other 7ha of mixed species.

‘‘What we’re try­ing to do is work the flat ar­eas of the farm re­ally hard. Then on the sidel­ings we plant trees firstly to make money.’’

There are also en­vi­ron­men­tal in­flu­ences.

The trees pro­tect soil ero­sion much bet­ter than stomp­ing hooves ever could, Gray said.

And all their forests are reg­is­tered with the car­bon emis­sions trad­ing scheme, which al­lows them to claim car­bon cred­its for ev­ery tree.

‘‘That was the ‘‘ic­ing on the cake’’, Gray said.’’


EN­VI­RON­MEN­TAL BENEFITS: Ev­ery tree reg­is­tered with the car­bon emis­sions trad­ing scheme earns the Bald­wins car­bon cred­its.

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