My tree generation

AG ADVICE - December 2021

Phil Cranney - Senior Land Services Officer, Pastures

utilising natural regeneration events to improve your farm livestock shelter belts and biodiversity

The Who released “My Generation” in October 1965, during an El Nino phase in eastern Australia, with an area from Longreach in the north to Dubbo experiencing decile 1 rainfall. The Who’s Pete Townsend wrote the hit song and explained to Rolling Stone magazine in 1985 that “it was very much about finding a place in society”.

Just like the youth of the 60’s, the native regeneration of trees and shrubs are trying to find a place in your paddocks during this La Nina event. In fact, this natural germination and subsequent establishment of native trees and shrubs may be a once in a life-time event.

The three big factors that have led to this natural regeneration event:

  1. Above average rainfall
  2. Low stocking rates
  3. High fertiliser prices and therefore less fertiliser applied, especially in the less productive paddocks near existing native tree corridors

The vast majority of farmers on the Central Tablelands are very aware of the benefits of planting or promoting more native trees. However, let us review the top 7 benefits of native trees and shrubs:

  1. Shelter for livestock in extreme hot weather
  2. Shelter for livestock in severe cold weather
  3. Habitat for beneficial insects
  4. Habitat for native birds
  5. Increased capital value of your farm
  6. Reduce the risk/impact of soil salinity
  7. Reduce the risk of soil erosion

Often large old paddock trees will provide a rich seed bank for the new generation to replace the old. Also, do not forget the fence lines along side roadside vegetation, could be another area for potential regeneration of native trees and shrubs.

Once you have inspected these areas that have been grazed, fertilised or cultivated less frequently over the past 2 years, you can start to protect these young saplings from livestock and pests.

The difference in costs have been calculated to be as little as $80/Ha for the temporary fencing protection for the natural regeneration sites, vs $650/Ha for the traditional tube stock method of establishing native vegetation.

The most famous line from The Who’s hit song, My Generation, is “I hope I die before I get old” could be quite prophetic for the unprotected native trees and shrubs of this La Nina generation on your farm.

And to borrow some more inspiration from the song:

Don’t be the people that try to put us down (talkin’ bout this tree generation)

Just get that fence up all around (talkin’ bout this tree generation)

They’ll save your lambs when things get so very cold (talkin’ bout this tree generation)

Yeah, I can watch them grow as I get old (talkin’ bout this tree generation)

And my Christmas gift to you, is a promise to never sing at an LLS event.

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