Agroforestry – SRF Forestry

What is Short Rotation Forestry and is it right for you?

Short Rotation Forestry is a sustainable land use system that involves cultivating fast-growing trees or shrubs for 1 to 15 years, then harvesting them for energy or other products. It’s an essential aspect of sustainable land management practices that benefits the economy and the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving soil quality, and creating job opportunities.

Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) distinguishes itself from its close relative, Short Rotation Coppice (SRC), by adhering more closely to the principles of traditional forestry. Unlike SRC, which is usually harvested every three years, SRF has a much longer rotation cycle of 8 to 20 years, placing it somewhere between SRC and conventional forestry in terms of timeframes.

The trees are cut down when they grow to a diameter of about 10-20 cm and reach a height of about 1-2 meters. This offers two significant benefits: maintaining the rapid growth rate of young trees and increasing the wood-to-bark ratio, making SRF woodchips highly efficient for burning.

When harvested, the bark is removed and left on the site along with other residue to replenish the soil’s nutrients. The wood is taken away and prepared for end markets.

Species -

A number of species, native, naturalized and exotic, have been proposed for SRF, including various varieties of:

Yields -

The yields of SRC can be impressive, but SRF limited field trials reveal comparable and superior results with certain species. It is important to note, however, that these outcomes may not be universally applicable throughout the UK as critical variables such as soil types and temperature range must be considered to achieve maximum yields with SRF.

Environmental Benefits of SRF / SRC

Trees play a critical role in maintaining and protecting our environment. They are widely recognised for their unrivalled contributions to biodiversity, carbon cycling and storage, and natural flood management. By implementing a combination of Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) on your land, you can benefit from the best of both worlds. SRF provides secure and safe habitats for a diverse range of wildlife, while SRC furnishes a reliable food source for insects and their predators.

Short rotation plantation based bioenergy value chains offer significantly superior CO2 savings for electricity and heat production, compared to traditional energy crops. Moreover, the CO2 mitigation costs are just a fraction of what it is for biofuels derived from rapeseed, corn, or maize silage-based biogas. In addition, replacing natural gas or fuel oil for heating with biomass from plantations often results in economic viability without the need for any subsidies.

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Biodiversity Net Gain

The environmental benefits associated with willow and poplar production, is something that all landowners should be considering at every opportunity.  The team at Eco Crops have the expertise and experience to not only advise what’s best for you and your business, but also what’s best for the local and wider environment. 

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