July 29, 2007

Northland Totara Working Group Field Day

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices,Forestry Research,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 6:00 am

Remnants of totara gate and fence

Held at A. Crawford property. Cook Rd. Okaihau on Saturday, 31 March 2007

The 2nd of a 3 part seminar on issues with managing totara. The 1st part being heads talking to powerpoint presentations; an hour or 2 of bums on seats,  4 different days, 4 locations: could’ve been 10 minutes tacked onto the front end of the 3rd part and saved a lot of time and money.

The field day was the most useful of the three.

The field day attendees included bureaucrats, lifestylers, contractors, and pastural farmers. At times the researchers findings or views weren’t just questioned, but downright rejected. Points of contention included: desirable pruning heights; the timing of pruning or production thinning; the role of borer in downgrade; and nutrient application.

From early times of human occupation of New Zealand, totara wood has been utilised because of it’s ease of workability, high durability, stability, fine finish,relatively light weight, along with straight knot-free stems. Those features that gave it desirability, plus a government low price policy, led to overcutting, leaving only remnants of old growth (durable) totara and collapse of the market. Insufficient effort was put into researching and managing the growing of totara (or other indigenous timber species) in sustainable forestry regimes or in plantations to enable continuity of supply. Instead, Pinus radiata, was selected for fast grown non-durable sapwood production in clear felled regimes treated as a mediocre commodity wood or fibre source.

Regenerating totara forest View under young totara regeneration

Since the removal of government subsidies on agricultural production, large areas of marginal farmland in Northland have reverted to scrub and then through to young forest. Fortunately for totara it is a pioneer species that is quite tolerant as to site, and can better thwart browsing than can most New Zealand native trees. A large proportion of this reversion has been to totara dominated forest, creating the potential for a significant new timber resource.

Pruned and thinned tight stand of totara Branchy habit of totara Tightly grown totara of similar age Northland Totara Working Group field day discussion Old growth totara stand

The Working Group was established “to support and promote research and technology transfer in the productive management of totara”. this could cynically be translated into: “as researchers, we should be milking this for as much funding as we can get away with; this is another opportunity to reinvent the wheel.”

At times the day got bogged down in discussion of what amounted to uneconomic harvesting activity. The group doesnt seem to have a grasp on the matter. Who is harvesting this knotty sap farm-crop totara? It appears that at present it is for the most part craftspeople unofficially ‘salvaging’ open grown paddock logs felled to be burned. Research indicates that on fertile sites, totara can put on annual trunk diametre growth incruement of around 10 mm; and that in trees less than 100 years old there is very little durable heartwood. There is no way that this could be and economically viable crop given competing product prices. However, Randal Austen found that a single application of superphosphate fertilizer (untargeted as to matching nutrient needs) gave faster growth rates, twice that, and continuing over at least a seven year period. With fine tuning of nutrient additions, growth rates might match similarly durable exotic timber species. The second part we might work on is shortening the time to produce significant amounts of durable heartwood. Together these two may still not add up economically.

Other factors such as soil and water conservation forestry may help make active management of totara economically sensible. Against this, totara tends to have a fairly shallow root system and might be of minimal value here.

The group has $nz265,000 in funding to demonstrate thinning and quantify the resource; to evaluate the wood quality; and to compare growth rates, stand productivity and wood quality of extracted thinnings of naturally-regenerating stands with plantation totara However.these activities of themselves wont encourage land owners to undertake ‘management (that) is required to maximise the production from these stands’. What is missing is how the land stacks up; as well as infrastructure concerns.


January 28, 2007

From Inglewood to Broadwood

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices — shem kerr @ 9:20 am

I’ve been asked to post the photos. So I’ll do that first. Here be the thumbnails. Click on those and go further.
Some time in the future i’ll get around to putting down the words.

Taranaki from suburban Inglewood Suburban Inglewood - our version Pond Dawn house washroom Attic bedroom

That’s Inglewood, at least part of what we added to it. it’s not Inglewood the way the Ingle-Woodens see it.

Next up: Broadwood. Again, not necessarily a Broad-Wooden view.
Maungapohuta massif Toward Whangape Herekino Maungataniwha Toward the south Untitled Creek Flat Paper road Mangonuiowae bend

November 20, 2006

Field Day Reclamation: Paengaroa: Welcome Bay; Waitara



Just got in. Logbook says 855.3 km. I’ll put up the thumbnails temporarily placed first, then get back to the field day issues.

Ok, had to have a bath; eat; then had to sleep; then needed to work. Now i can get back to down-sizing the photos and uploading them. Just noticed that there’s a new way of handling photos on my dashboard – I have to get my head around that. If you click on the thumbnail then it should come up bigger along with a caption. You can click on the bigger picture to see it even bigger.

Family farm forestry
Farm forestry Reid Road Welcome Bay Flying-fox over pond Welcome Bay


July 7, 2006

Accessability to Group Activities

Filed under: Accessability,Forestneeds_Notices — shem kerr @ 11:16 am

Mechanisms that enable and protect the disabled or otherwise disadvantaged, help the group as a whole. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it will benefit all of the interests of all members, as there are some who will manipulate and take advantage of situations of disfunction – situations that include where:

the rules aren’t known or are insufficient to protect and enable;

leaders effectively hide or bar group information from discussion;

the activities are framed in a way that excludes part, even a majority, of the membership.


Farming and forestry based groups are good example groups because of the kind of attitudes involved, and the nature of the interest. The proximity of life and death situations within an unpredictable environment encourages an ad hoc approach to decision making. Conferences and field days can be remote and physically and financially demanding. These activities are pretty much full on physically and mentally – and those who do get to participate have a multi-sensory learning experience. From that perspective, documentation as more than shorthand notes or advertising is seen as unnecessary. Discussion further down the track is also treated in a compressed way. The 90% of members who dont get to that event are effectively excluded from subsequent discussion. In time a small core of members is created that has ‘all’ the knowledge; they are seen as indispensable; they do all the organizing; – the membership at large appear disinterested – therefore information isn’t given, even withheld – a divisive situation builds and the group becomes disfunctional.

Today there is no technological excuse for not documenting and communicating group information. Documenting and communicating provides accessability. This website is an example of how a grower group can provide accessability and do it economically without needing IT skills, or a even members with average or higher iqs. Some references to Content Management Software (CMS), and Computer ( ) are listed on the Accessability page of the Special Needs List of this blog; as should be reference to meeting organisation.


April 23, 2006

Alton Field Day Lessons

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices,Timber Growing — shem kerr @ 4:44 am

23 year old SequoiaThe 20/04/06 Taranaki Farm Shelter and Forestry Association field day examined riparian plantings; pasture retirement; and progress on cypresses.


April 14, 2006

Hardwood page posted

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices — shem kerr @ 11:50 pm

Posted hardwood page April 10. Changed presentation. Had a few presentation issues sorted. I am working on a couple of postings, one on cool climate hardwoods and another on cypress economics. but need to do a bit more work to make sure what I post makes sense.

January 24, 2006

Cypress reference list posted

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices,Timber Growing — shem kerr @ 8:00 pm

Today sees part of the Farm Forestry Special Needs List finally out in the “Pages” of this site.
The Cypress references pull together a lot of the story on why and how to grow the most common timber type of cypress. There are some areas that will be covered under the general heading “solid timber production”.

January 7, 2006

Forest establishment zone

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices — shem kerr @ 4:20 am

 Split Kahikawaka ( Libocedrus bidwillii ) Maunga TaranakiLog is in set up phase, and may be a bit patchy until I get the hang of how this medium works. The aim of the log is to give some alternative examples of forestry activity beyond commercial wood fibre cropping or logging; to write about a diverse range of forest based crops and activities including production of high value solid timber, non-wood products, and non-harvesting activities that demand different approaches to forest planning and management. Rather than just give my own opinions, links to expertize will play a big part in telling the story. At present I'm in the process of getting some semblance of order into my lists of URLs.kahikawaka grove

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