Jun

21

agroforestryFrom St. Louis Post Dispatch, 6/03/10:

When most people think of farmland, they think of open fields lined with long, neat crop rows. But some farmers and researchers picture something else: trees."The practice of combining farming and trees, known as agroforestry, has caught the attention of more farmers in recent years. And Missouri, with its ample forests and one of the country's premier agroforestry research centers, is leading the way into the woods.

"Proponents say agroforestry allows small-scale farmers to earn much needed extra income by growing certain shade-loving crops in unused forests, while larger-scale farmers can use trees to mitigate the environmental costs of agriculture, from soil erosion to water pollution.

This makes an awful lot of sense. They could learn a lot talking with pot farmers in the forests around Corbin, KY and Redding, CA.

Scott Brooks comments:

Two thoughts on this:

1. A friend of mine is the head forester for the state of Missouri. She is a driving force behind this kind of initiative and really knows what she is doing. She is very much a market oriented, capitalist person.

2. "Ditch Weed" used to be pretty big here in MO, but the buzz and profitability of meth has put it on the back burner (no pun intended). Back in the 80's and early 90's, we'd be out hunting and would come across "ditch weed" on a semi-regular basis.

Most ungulates, browsers and other wildlife love to eat weeds as their main food source, but I didn't notice them eating "weed". Although I'm sure a few did eat the "weed", because if we left our cheetos outside over night, we'd be overrun by deer quoting Jeff Spicoli. (Ok, that last sentence may not be completely true).

Pitt. T. Maner III comments:

Perhaps as revenues begin to lag federally-licensed growing will take hold. I suppose medical marijuana is helpful in some cases but not sure if the long-term health effects and future generation genetic effects are fully known–is it really that safe a drug?

Meanwhile in Oakland, Ca:

"Looking at the economic analysis, we will generate a considerable amount of additional revenues, and that will certainly help us weather the hard economic times that all urban areas are having to deal with," Reid said. How much money is at stake isn't clear because the tax rate and the number of facilities the law would allow haven't been decided. A report prepared for AgraMed Inc., one of the companies planning to seek a grower's license, said its proposed 100,000-square-foot-project near the Oakland Coliseum would produce more than $2 million in city taxes each year…

We are emulating the wine industry, but instead of 'from grape to bottle,' it's 'from plant to pipe,'" Mann said. "Or seed to sack," offered Peterson

Al Corwin writes: 

 Tree farming of all types has been a solid business for some time. One of my college projects forty years ago was a comparative analysis of various tree farming operations. It wasn't a get-rich-quick scheme by any stretch of the imagination, but it was hard to find anyone who had gone broke in the business. At the time, Christmas tree farming was the most profitable on a per year per acre basis.

As someone raised on a dairy farm, the contrast between the incessant demands of milking and the barely intermittent demands of tree farming couldn't have been more dramatic. Fire and minor problems with bugs were the only significant hazards.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, there have actually been some great advances in tree farming in the last few years. I am most fascinated by the cottonwood farms. The trees are actually planted in a river. The trees grow so fast that you can see the difference day by day, and the fact that they are already in the water reduces the hassle and cost of harvesting. In addition, the tree farmers claim that the farms are good for fish and for the health of the river. Cottonwood is primarily used for paper.

One of the interesting discoveries that has changed tree farms is that irregular spacing is critical for fir trees. If the trees are planted in regular rows, they are at risk from a certain parasite that does not attack irregularly spaced trees. If you notice any acreage replanted in the last twenty years, the trees have been replanted almost haphazardly on a few years, giving the new plantings much of the look of a mountain clearing gone back to the wild.


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