Increasing Farm Production by Converting Fenceline Brush to Agroforestry
Darren Hoffman of Auxvasse, MO teamed up with Brian Flatt and Dennis Isgrig to demonstrate how to increase the value and production of a farm by converting fence-line brush to agro forestry. These three family farms produce products such as soybeans, corn, wheat, forages and beef cattle. Each of these farms has multiple generations that are involved in the farming activities and implement no-till, conservation tillage and crop rotation practices to help the environment.
The goal of this 2001 SARE grant was to show that producers can add more value to their farms by selecting fencerows that are not beneficial to the farm and transfigure them into marketable trees. There were several benefits to this project, such as opening up areas for new ground cover, provided immediate firewood, created a safer environment for animals and individuals, as well as enhancing the water quality protection and carbon sequestration.
The process began by selecting a stretch of dense fence-line with a mixed stand of walnut trees and other brushes for pruning on two of the three farms. The third farms project included a twenty-acre woodlot along a creek, which consisted of a mixture of walnut trees and other hardwood species. Each farm performed proper grooming and management techniques to increase the production and value of their farms. Harlan Palm, who had been managing a personal walnut plantation for over 25 years assisted in the clean-up process. He helped by providing labor and equipment as well as expertise on which trees should be kept and which ones needed to be pruned.
The projects deemed to be a success, as each of the sites are much more attractive and beneficial to the farm. “Well over 300 walnut trees have been released and are under managed care so that they will potentially garner $100,000 to $250,000 value instead of being part of an unsightly fence-line that begrudgingly attracts bulldozers,” explained Hoffman.