Trees for farm balance are very important

Landholders throughout South Australia will soon be planting more than 530,000 Trees For Life native seedlings on their properties to encourage biodiversity, for windbreaks, to help combat soil erosion or salinity. Among those landholders are Liam and Madeleine Burns, who run their Triple B Biodynamic Beef company on two properties; the first near Milang and the other on the Finniss River at Clayton.

The Burns are staunch believers in native vegetation benefiting their properties – both the land itself and subsequently, the health of their cattle – and since joining Trees For Life in 1990, they have planted more than 13,000 tubestock. They have also direct seeded some of their Finniss property.

Madeleine said they planted thousands of their trees on their first property so were “quite happy when we purchased the second property – which was bare except for one small row of Platypus gums – that we could create a different landscape to provide much needed windbreaks, wildlife habitat, stock shelter and improve the overall.

In 2003 when they decided to make “a huge lifestyle change” and become certified biodynamic, tree planting took on a whole new dimension and became incredibly important to them, Madeleine said. “The trees create a physical barrier from neighbouring properties and although they still have a way to go before the stock will gain shade benefits, they’re already acting as windbreaks which is beneficial in the winter months. “For our enterprise though, the biggest advantage is the enormous biodiversity we see in bird life. This is so important to assist in insect control and it really does make a difference.

Madeleine said without help from Trees For Life’s volunteer growers, funding from the Goolwa to Wellington Local Action Plan and help from a local Landcare group, their success would not have been achievable. “We received funding for fencing materials, which meant we didn’t have to spend a fortune on fencing; it’s important for landholders to find out about avenues like this as it can help them greatly so they’re not put off tree planting for financial reasons.”

The Burns’ first property in Milang now has 15 metre wide tree lines along their boundaries and between most of their paddocks which has increased biodiversity on. “After purchasing the Finniss property in 2010 we had direct seeding carried out to three boundaries with 15m wide rows. The fourth boundary is the river and five acres of river front land has been set aside as a reserve with a local community group planting 7000 plants including reeds, grasses, shrubs and trees with the aim of returning biodiversity to benefit the wildlife that use the river – turtles, black swans, pelicans, terns, ducks,” Madeleine said.

“Creating habitat for indigenous species at every level of the food chain aids enormously in balancing a farm as a whole and negates the need to use chemicals to wipe out any overburden of pests.”

And after many years of revegetation work, do they have any advice for other landholders looking at heading down the same path? “Don’t hesitate to do it – the benefits are enormous. But be sure that plantings are properly protected from livestock initially; prepare the site well (ripping if possible makes the job so much quicker depending on your site) and if possible, have the ability to water a few times for the first summer.”

If you’re interested in ordering native seedlings for your property, phone Trees For Life on (08) 8406 0500 or visit www.treesforlife.org.au For more information on the Burns’ Triple B Biodynamic Beef practises visit their website at www.triplebbiodynamicbeef.com.au

For more information please contact Tania Kearney, Trees For Life Media & Communications.