East Otago couple John and Heather Prebble have had a
long-standing interest in farm forestry.
Mr and Mrs Prebble, who live on a 630ha sheep and beef farm
near Dunback, now run by their son Mark, began planting trees
in the late 1970s.
Initially, the incentive was to make some money out of them.
When they came to their current property 28 years ago,
several shelterbelts had recently been planted.
They started planting gullies and then set out to improve the
look of the place and provide shelter for stock.
They have 23ha of production forestry, 2.2km of shelterbelts
and a 1.5ha fodder block.
The plantings were mostly radiata, with 3ha of macrocarpa and
''little patches of odds and ends'', Mr Prebble said.
The shelter provided by the trees was invaluable,
particularly at lambing time, he said.
Mr Prebble has been heavily involved with the New Zealand
Farm Forestry Association, serving on the national executive
from 1990 to 2000, which included a two-year term as
president from 1998 to 2000.
He has been involved with the North Otago branch of the NZFFA
since its inception in 1981.
That included serving as secretary for 12 years, while Mrs
Prebble was treasurer for about eight.
At its peak, membership was just under 100, in the late
1980s-early 1990s, but it was now down to about 30.
The increase in dairying had been a major factor in reducing
numbers. A lot of good planted farms had been converted to
dairy, he said.
Mrs Prebble said meeting people had been a highlight of the
The Prebble family's property, Mt Blue, will be visited
during a farm forestry workshop on Tuesday, April 29.
A series of free Trees on Farms workshops are being held
throughout the South Island, and in Northland, as part of a
Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund
initiative encouraging more tree-planting on farms as part of
wise land-use strategies.
The workshops were the second tranche of a successful series
held in the North Island in 2012 and 2013, and were being run
through local branches of the NZFFA.
The aim was to help farmers and landowners identify how
planting the right trees in the right place could boost farm
profitability and deliver multiple benefits, such as income
from timber and carbon, soil conservation, shade, shelter and
fodder for livestock, better water quality, and habitat for
The workshops drew on the expertise and practical experience
of knowledgeable local farm foresters, farm advisers,
regional councils, and a range of other professionals. Each
workshop was customised to reflect local opportunities and
The day-long workshops featured a combination of
presentations, short video clips of successful local farm
foresters, and then a field visit to a showcase local farm
The North Otago branch's workshop will start at the Bowling
Club pavilion at Dunback at 9.45am.
Topics included the role of trees in land and environment
plans, nutrient management and where trees fit in,
opportunities for natives on sheep and beef farms, updates on
environmental certification for farm foresters and the
Emissions Trading Scheme, and whether production of edible
fungi was an economic option.
In the afternoon, participants will travel to Mt Blue and
inspect various plantings while presentations will include
shelter plantings, use of tree fodder, maximising profit and
marketing opportunities of farm woodlots, and growing and
managing high value timber species.
Maximising profit was a subject of particular interest to Mr
Prebble, who has a 25-year-old block of trees not far from
If the tree market stayed where it was for another 12 to 18
months, it should be very profitable.
Logs were becoming quite valuable and, if prices held up,
largely driven by demand from China, then it could create
more interest in forestry, Mr Prebble said.
Other workshops in the South include Queenstown on April 24,
looking at trees on Wakatipu's small farms and lifestyle
Topics to be discussed include species choice for different
objectives on smaller properties, growing natives in the
Wakatipu, avoiding wilding spread and wilding control.
The morning session will be held at Lake Hayes Pavilion,
followed by afternoon visits to Jo Boyd's nursery and
lifestyle property on Boyd Rd, and native plantings at Neil
Simpson's property at Wye Creek.
Opportunities for trees on all farms in South Otago will be
discussed at Telford on May 14.
In the afternoon, there will be a visit to the Landcorp-owned
dairy farm managed by Peter and Helen Gilder, where topics
will include Landcorp's policy relative to tree use, how to
grow good high value timbers, the top 10 native species,
riparian planting and funding availability.
The focus for the Southland workshop will be opportunities
for trees on intensively managed farms.
It will be held at the Winton Salvation Army Hall on May 15,
followed by a visit to the McKenzie family's property at
Limehills in the afternoon.