Case Study - Agroforestry

9. Gunningham Farms Integrated Farm Forestry Demonstration Site

Gunningham Farms Pty Ltd, Montumana, Circular Head - The Gunningham's are 5th generation dairy farmers producing organic milk and pasture raised, free-range eggs. The Gunningham's have strategically planted 17 hectares of P.radiata and 15 hectares of E.nitens at selected sites across their property for shelter, biodiversity and aesthetics.

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At a glance

Owner Matthew and Pippa Gunningham
Property name Gunningham Farms
Location Montumana, Circular Head, north west Tasmania
Property size 480ha
Enterprise Dairy and free-range eggs
Rainfall 979.1mm
Soil type Red basalt
Forested area 22.39ha

Key points

  • The importance of species selection
  • Whole farm planning
  • Identifying the best land use for every section of your farm
  • Aesthetic benefits of trees in the landscape

Introduction

Gunningham Farms is one of seven successful Round 1 Integrated Farm Forestry Demonstration Sites receiving grant funding to develop landscape scale best practice integration of shelterbelts and woodlots into the agricultural landscape. 

The Cunningham's are 5th generation dairy farmers are currently milking 700 organic cows and producing free range eggs through their nearly 3,000 laying hens. 

Gunningham Farms have established 10.46 hectares of Pinus Radiata and 11.93 hectares of Eucalypt nitens at selected sites across the property. Strategically planting trees to maximise their full potential for shelter, biodiversity and aesthetics, Gunningham Farms urge others to get on board. 

Gunningham Farms enlisted the services of professional forest consultants ‘Technical Forest Services’ to develop their plan.

Gunningham Farm is made up of 10 individual block plantings - 5 P.radiata shelterbelts (site 1), 2 P.radiata woodlots (site 2), and 3 E.niten woodlots (site 3).

Gunningham 5452
Gunningham 5399

“We are 100% convinced that this is appropriate for a lot of farms. We can already see where we would apply our learnings to our other dairy farms and where we would place additional shelterbelts” says Matthew.

All sites were planted in September 2021 by Mareeba Forestry, Ulverstone and received 20 grams of Multicote fertilizer on planting.

All sites have a stocking rate of 1,200 stems per hectare and all seedlings were sourced through Hills Transplants, Don.

Site 1, Blocks 1,2,3, 4 & 5 P.radiata shelterbelts

Site preparation

  • Clearing of vegetation and harvest slash
  • Heavily grazed prior to cultivation for weed control
  • Rip mound
  • Fencing
  • Manual weeding

Species and area

  • P.radiata - 3.7ha

Survival rate

  • 96.7% as at October 2022

Challenges

  • Wild radish in mounds
  • Drier Winter/Spring 2021 and drier than average 2022 for the north-west

Progress to date

  • Refill completed July 2022 with open rooted seedlings

Planned management

  • Ongoing weed control on shelterbelt components

Site 2, Blocks 6 & 7 P.radiata woodlots

Site preparation

  • Clearing of vegetation and harvest slash

Fencing

  • Species and area
  • P.radiata - 13ha

Survival rate

  • 87.9% as at October 2022

Challenges

  • Browsing animals
  • Drier Winter/Spring 2021 and drier than average 2022 for the north-west

Progress to date

  • Refill completed July 2022 with open rooted seedlings

Planned management

  • Ongoing weed control on shelterbelt component

  

Site 3, Blocks 8, 9 & 10 E.nitens woodlots

Site preparation

  • Clearing of vegetation and harvest slash
  • Rip mound
  • Fencing

Species and area

  • E.nitens - 11.93ha

Survival rate

  • 92.8% as at October 2022

Challenges

  • Browsing animals
  • Drier Winter/Spring 2021 and drier than average 2022 for the north-west
  • Competition with native eucalyptus and native forests
Gunningham

Watch the video

Matthew and Pippa Gunningham are organic dairy and free-range chicken farmers located at Montumana in Tasmania’s far north west. The Gunningham’s have strategically planted a mixture of niten and radiata pine trees displaying the benefits of creating more biodiversity on farm whilst providing a genuine level of shelter for livestock and reducing water evaporation.