Formosa Estate virtual reality video - Shelterbelts increase pasture growth
23 Jun 2022
Forest Learning has released a series of agroforestry virtual reality videos including a case study of Formosa Estate that was part of the Agroforestry project ran by PFT in collaboration with CSIRO and UTas. The video shows the research scientists have conducted and the results shelter belts have had on pasture growth through wind reduction.
In 2016, PFT launched the Agroforestry project in collaboration with CSIRO and UTas to demonstrate the benefits of trees in the agricultural landscape.
Equipment was installed at Formosa Estate situated in the north of the state at Cressy, to measure soil and atmospheric variables from forests to open fields measuring crop growth and animal movement in relation to shelterbelts established in 2001.
The paddock was grazed to a uniform starting point and stock excluded with the pasture being allowed to grow for around 7 weeks until early October 2017. Pasture biomass was measured and a total of 7 transects were established across the paddock with an automatic weather station to continuously monitor wind direction and speed. The shelterbelt was close to perpendicular to the bulk of the wind and reduced wind speed on average by around 50% over the sheltered half of the paddock.
In the spring of 2017, Formosa Estates pasture production was on average 30% higher in the sheltered half of the paddock compared to the unsheltered half.
A Pinus radiata shelterbelt on approximately 1ha (4%) of the paddock but induced a 15% increase in pasture growth over the remaining 24ha and effectively increased the pasture production to the equivalence of a 29ha paddock.
The study concluded that the impact of shelter on the gross margin was likely to be around $63/ha, or $1,500 in total across the paddock.
In addition to increased pasture production, shelter can also increase stock survival, provide carbon offsets and financial benefits at the time of harvest.
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