Dairy farm planting projects proliferate

Julie (left), Phil and Helen Wells at their Wrights Rd planting project, which they started five years ago. Photo: Supplied
Julie (left), Phil and Helen Wells at their Wrights Rd planting project, which they started five years ago. Photo: Supplied
An Oxford dairy farming family has shown how plantings can improve biodiversity on farm.

Helen Wells and her adult children Julie and Phil Wells began planting 11 years ago, with the aim of beautifying a dairy shed area when the family converted their 420ha farm from sheep to dairy

The family quickly discovered many other areas suitable for planting and now have 15 planting projects on the go.

Helen Wells said to avoid spending a lot on plants for the dairy shed project, she called on family and friends for help.

''I've always been a keen gardener. We were able to source seedlings and cuttings from family and friends for the first project and then we purchased smaller plants to fill in the gaps.''

Julie Wells said after the dairy shed project, they mapped out some other sites around the farm which were not as productive and looked at the sides of laneways and water ways.

She said it was important not to try to do too much all at once.

''We had to pick plants that were hardy and would survive our weather extremes.

''The other thing to keep in mind is that you need to maintain the planted area and that will happen around November, which coincides with a busy time for farmers, so don't try to do too much all at once''.

Julie Wells said she recommended starting with a small area and ''not thinking that you have to do a whole roadside''.

''You could even look at a small patch of land that is too wet for you to use for farming and start there.''

Getting a planting plan from your local nursery was another good piece of advice, Mr Wells said.

''The plans help you figure out all the small details like the correct spacing for your plants and which plants go next to each other.

''Keep in mind too that it takes around four years for a planting area to become self-sustaining, so there will be quite a bit of work required up to that point.''

The family has planted mostly native species and now plants up to 1000 trees and plants a year, making planting days into fun events for their extended family and staff.

He husband Kevin had been on the farm for 68 years and she hoped the generations to come would continue to expand upon their passion for planting and biodiversity, Helen Wells said.

''We want to care for and retain this land for generations. The quality of the land and the environment is important to us.''

-By David Hill

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