Tree Selection

Any questions or comments you have about Natural Sequence Farming processes. These could include general questions or ones about your personal problems.

We do not endorse any answers from anyone in this forum except Peter Andrews himself.

Please remember, Natural Sequence Farming has to be tailored for your specific problem and to follow general advice may create more problems for you.

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Tree Selection

Post by WELBY CITY SLICKERS » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:56 pm

We have just dug our first contour channel in a test paddock and now wish to plants a number of trees in the area above the channel as suggested by Peter. Are there any thoughts about the species of trees we should use suitable for the southern highlands of NSW?[/quote]

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Post by duane » Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:22 pm

Plant anything except Eucalypts... NATIVES:acacias, native rainforestplants eyc etc etc but NO gums, corymbia or species that are fire resistant and promoting.
NON NATIVES: Any deciduous trees from the Northern hemisphere; any fruit and nut trees; any potential agro forestry trees, conifers BUT NO GUMS!!

The world is your oyster as long as you dont use any eucalyptus oil to flavour them.

Others can give you more specific details.....Shirley?? Col?? Brett??

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Post by duane » Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:29 pm

The following info has been compiled by Greg Donaghue, GD and Dr Sandy Cornell,SC, in Victoria and currently assiting Peter's work there with bush fire victims and owners of degraded land. Its an extra add on to what I have briefly described above.

Introduced Species. by GD and SC

The NSF system uses introduced species – particularly weeds – in an effort to re-establish bio-diversity. NSF’s founder, Peter Andrews, states that planting trees – especially Eucalypts – will most likely never achieve this bio-diversity, and if it does, it will take too long – possibly decades. He instead relies on the practice of allowing weeds – or pioneering species – to do the preparation work naturally. By allowing weeds to grow – in their natural sequence – organic material is returned quickly to the soil in a matter of weeks and months, rather than years and decades, and thereby increase the fertility of the soil. This increase in fertility in turn allows for other species to out-compete the weeds. Peter’s view is that this is the only viable way of returning to a biodiverse landscape – which has a myriad of advantages – but many of the species that do this pioneering work are either declared as noxious (and cannot legally be grown) or are introduced (which runs counter to those who insist on using native species only). Peter has become famous for his comments about the use of weeds – claiming with good evidence that species such as thistles, burrs, blackberry, even willows - will rehabilitate a landscape much more quickly and effectively than any other system. Sadly though, many of these species are proscribed by various State governments, and cannot be legally grown.

3. Pioneering Species

There are however a number of pioneering and fast growing species which can be used legally, many of which are also fire-retardant. Some of these include:

· Cape Wattle (Albizia lopantha)

· Bamboo (Bambusa multiplex)

· Brisbane Wattle (Acacia fimbriata)

· Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

· Chanar (Geoffroea decorticans)

· Curry plant (Helychrysum angustifolium)

· Curry-leaf Tree (Murraya keonigii)

· Drumstick tree (Moringa oleifera)

· Feijoa (Feijoa sellowiana)

· Five Spice (Coleus aromaticus)

· Golden wreath wattle (Acacia saligna)

· Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

· Ice Cream Bean (Inga edulis)

· Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala)

· Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis)

· Olive (Olea europaea)

· Paulownia (Paulownia tomentose)

· Rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

· Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

· Siberian Pea Tree (Caragana arborescens)

· Sun Hemp (Crotalaria juncea)

· Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizaniodides)

· Vietnames coriander (Polygonum odoratum)

Other species of fire-retardant species suitable for specific locations can easily be sourced by internet search engines.

NOTE: While some species can be sensible labelled “Fire Retardant”, the real fire-retardant character is to be found in the landscape overall, not in a particular species. A landscape that has a high level of vegetation, a wide biodiversity of plants, and has high organic material levels in the soil, will naturally retain a lot of moisture (in the soil and the plant), will not contain high levels of flammable oil, and will therefore be fire retardant. If many of those species are also specifically fire-retardant species, then this is an added bonus, but in general, it is the retention of water in the landscape that creates a fire-retardant landscape.

4. Water

Without doubt, the effective use of water is one of the two ultimate foundations of any sustainable landscape. The NSF system has developed a number of ways of slowing down the course of water over a landscape – the most well known of which is Peter’s ‘Leaky Weirs’ system – and this has a number of benefits including:

(a) increase in the amount of usable water on the farm;

(b) increase in the settling-out of organic material from the water, onto the land where it can be used to increase fertility;

(c) decrease in erosion.

This is particularly important in fire-affected areas. Without any organic material to bind the soil together, large amounts of rainfall are likely to wash away soil, leading to large erosion excisions, and the further loss of soil fertility. This becomes a vicious downward cycle, where erosion reduces fertility, and fertility increases erosion, over and over again. Any attempt to rehabilitate the landscape will fail unless it adequately addresses the issue of water. Currently Peter is the only real expert in the world on creating these water control systems, however a number of his ‘students’ are well versed in the fundamental principles and can provide some consulting advice. The actual construction of these though should only be considered under Peter’s direct supervision.

5. Organic Matter

The second ultimate foundation for a sustainable (and fire retardant) landscape is that of Soil Organic Matter. Biodiversity relies heavily on fertile soils, and fertility relies exclusively on high levels of organic matter. In natural landscapes, this organic material is built up in the soil over centuries, a result of plants growing, dying and decaying. However in degraded landscapes, and those affected by fires, this organic material has either been stripped out or burned, and SOM levels are near zero. If left untouched, the landscape would repair itself and organic levels would begin to build up naturally using this grow-die-decay process, but this may take decades. It is therefore imperative that organic material is introduced to the soil in large quantities. Ideally, this material would be introduced to the fire-affected property in conjunction with the water control systems described above, so that the water would rinse through this organic material and distribute it evenly across the landscape.

6. Biological Health

When in the soil, organic material decomposes into water-soluble nutrients which can be immediately taken-up by the plants. This decomposition is done by soil microbes. Quite apart from a range of other disadvantages, the use of chemical sprays – fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides etc – are lethal to these microbes, and therefore reduce the availability of water-soluble nutrients. A key plank in the NSF system is the elimination of the use of these chemical additives.

7. Summary

To rehabilitate any landscape, including those affected by fires, the following steps should be taken, in the following order:

(i) Discontinue the use of chemical sprays, fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides;

(ii) Control the movement of water across the landscape (leaky weirs and similar control structures);

(iii) Introduce large volumes of organic materials;

(iv) Introduce pioneering and fire-retardant species of plants to the landscape;

(v) Foster the growth of these pioneering species, and return their organic material into the soil.

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Post by brettmtl » Sun Aug 16, 2009 4:52 pm

Hi and welcome

Well done and congrats on taking the first step, you won't look back, it is an exciting journey.

Duane has pretty much covered the bases.

One question, how long have livestock been excluded from land?
The longer you can build up organic matter and nutrients, before planting the trees, the better the growth on the trees will be

Look forward to your updates


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Post by WELBY CITY SLICKERS » Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:04 pm

Many thanks for the feedback.
The paddock is on a hill with a 1:7 gradient and was suffering from declining fertility for a couple of years. Before the Aust Story episodes aired, we had decided to broadcast seed and super and lock the stock out. AS a result of the feritiser, we got an abundant crop of fireweed and we were wondering how to attack the weed when we saw Peter's shows on TV. Got the books and are now converted. At the top of the hill on the boundary is a row of gum trees on the neighbour's property so we can't do much about that. However, on the ground under the trees is a lush crop of "cabbage weed" (my name for unidentified weeds), so I am cutting this and using it for mulch to be placed below the lower channel.

We have done such a great job over the years of erradicating all the weeds on the place, there are none left and we are scouring the place looking for weeds for mulch.

A load of foul manure is expected soon to provide the necessary fertility that will hopefully kill the fireweed and grow the grass. The fireweed has been left to grow to full size and and is nearing the end of its growing cycle now so we are using a hand Victa mower to cut and mulch to add to the lower channel. We will either have no more fireweed or the best crop in the district. We plan to keep the stock out of the paddock until we can restore the paddock.

About 18months ago we probably proved one of Peter's points about weeds but didn't realise the significance of the results. There was a patch about the area of a house out of sight in another paddock that had a great number of varigated and scotch thistles to a height of about 1.5 metres in a thick pattern. We were horrified and proceeded to attack them with a brush cutter with a view to collecting them and disposing them later. Over time we forgot about them and recently returned to the site and found no trace of thistles cut down or thistles regrowing but grass doing just fine. It didn't make much sense until reading Peter's books.

We're now looking at weeds in a different light; as an indicator of soil fertility and also a source of mulch for the trenches.

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Post by duane » Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:45 pm


check out my recent post on Holistic Management....the information there will apply to your place.

Keep up the good work and keep us all posted.

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