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Where to plant trees

Course: How to plant trees on your farm | Last Updates: 8th February 2017

Trees on farms really work and can increase sustainability and support your farm’s productivity.
Not only do they create beautiful landscapes and provide homes for wildlife, but trees also offer shelter for livestock and crops, improve soil quality and prevent erosion.
Planting the right trees in the right place is crucial in making them work for you and your farm.
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Check for any restrictions to the land that could stop you planting; for example, there could be pipes and equipment underground or important archaeological features.
Your Local Authority can carry out the appropriate checks. Where significant archaeological features exist you must contact the county archaeologist before planting.
Are there any wildflowers, diverse grasses or fungi on the site? Trees should not be planted on land of high ecological value.
Is there a watercourse nearby, or is your planting area on a floodplain? If so you will need to contact the Environment Agency prior to planting.
If you have neighbours living close to the planting area, please consider any potential negative impacts of your trees on their views, access or light levels.

Planting to provide shade and shelter for livestock

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Sheltered, well drained fields provide the best physical conditions for livestock and are shown to reduce mortality of young lambs on sheep farms and lower exposure to diseases.
The greatest shelter benefits can come from belts of trees or hedgerows.
Restoring and maintaining existing hedgerows on your farm, to create robust shelter, is a good place to start. Planting more hedgerows to divide fields can also offer additional shelter.
Shelter belts can be integrated into your farm with adjacent planting next to existing hedges – plant on the northern, shadier side to avoid shading out the hedge.

Planting to improve soil management and prevent soil erosion

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Soil erosion is a significant economic cost to agriculture. Plant tree belts along the contours of your farm, perpendicular to prevailing winds or in areas known to be vulnerable to soil erosion.
This will build natural barriers to protect soil and crops from the impact of rainfall and strong winds, and limit erosion.

Planting to improve water management

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Trees help improve water management on your farm, including improving water quality and crop water efficiency and slowing water flow.
Plant trees on your field edge or as an in-field shelter belt to reduce wind speeds across the farm.
This modifies the crop microclimate and reduces evapotranspiration losses.

Provision of habitat for pollinators and insects

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Trees provide important nesting sites and food sources for pollinators. They create “highways” for bees, hoverflies and other insects to move between habitats. Plant regularly spaced trees as part of alley-cropping systems to create these pathways.

Silvoarable schemes

Silvoarable agroforestry systems give an opportunity to increase productivity per hectare and will also create a more resilient farming system.
Introduce productive trees such as crab apple in rows to increase the area farmed both above and below ground.
The Woodland Trust offers free advice and support for tree and hedgerow planting on your farm. This includes choosing species, identifying where to plant and assisting with grant support where available.
For more information and expert advice on how to plant trees on your farm, visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant or email plant@woodlandtrust.org.uk

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