IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins has encouraged farmers to consider integrating forestry into their farm enterprise. He said that tree planting can offer potential benefits to livestock enterprises and create a valuable source of capital for the future.
“By taking poorer ground out of agriculture, it is possible to get your farm to work more efficiently, maintain stocking level and reduce management problems associate with farming on poorer ground”, said Mr. Collins. “In addition the forest can improve shelter for the livestock, which in turn can improve the performance of animals”.
The Farm Forestry Chairman said that growing a commercial timber crop on your farm creates value, especially when it is established with the existing land uses in mind. He said the forest premium creates a positive cashflow to allow for investment elsewhere on the farm and timber sales an alternative source of income in the future and it is worth noting that both sources of income are income tax free.
The Afforestation Scheme provides grant aid that covers the cost of establishment, in most instances, and a premium payment for up to 15 years. The minimum area grant aided for a conifer plantation is 1 hectare, while the minimum broadleaf area is 0.1 hectare.
“Obviously, on smaller farms the scope for planting is reduced but there is still potential to farm with trees, which will add to the profitability of the farm. Although it may not be possible to establish a commercial timber crop, you may be able to plant a small woodland that could be used to provide shelter and as a source of fuel on the farm in the future”.
A farmer can plant land and receive both Basic Payment and Forest Premium on the land as long as at least 10% of the eligible hectares are retained in an agricultural activity subject to a minimum of 3 hectares.