Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tree Ranching instead of Tree Farming...

Plantation Eucalytus pellita
One of the practical problems associated with tropical tree plantations is tree maintenance and value enhancement. Though not official terms, I like to call the act of planting trees and letting them grow tree farming. However, to really maximize one's opportunities with tropical trees requires a more hands on, diligent approach, something I call tree ranching. This secondary approach is much like a rancher looking after the calves in a herd, it requires that a lot of tender loving care is directed towards each tree in the plantation. In contrast, tree farmers take a "let it be", let nature take it's coarse approach. The difference between the two can cause a sigificant impact on the bottom line over a 10 year period.

Plantation nursery getting prepped
Tree ranching includes the following actions for maximizing returns on investment: (1) using tractors and deep ploughs to loosen the soil before planting, as tropical trees set deep roots, (2) liming the soil to balance pH and to soften it for planting, (3) applying boron for healthy tree growth, and (4) fertilizing as required. In the nursery, tree ranching starts with (5) the use of certified, climate adapted seeds, not just any seeds one happens to get at liquidation world, and (6) the use of misting sprays as opposed to large drops or heavy sprays that may damage seedlings. (7) Seeds are sprouted before being transplanted into planting bags, allowing for early deletion of poor quality seedlings, meaning that once planted there is a very high rate of survival and a healthy plantation.

Pre-pruning Acacia mangium
As the trees grow, (8) some species require pruning in their first year of growth. Acacia mangium, much like teak, needs to have all secondary branches pruned within 10 to 12 months of planting, so that only the principal stem is left. This allows the tree to grow with a nice trunk that isn't full of knots, greatly improving the value of the wood at harvest. Some species, like Eucalyptus pellita, do not require pruning as they grow naturally with a tall, knotless trunk. (9) A foreman inspects every tree in the plantation at least once a month, and if (10) a tree is leaning or crooked ropes or cords can be applied to try and straighten it. Inspection also allows other problems to be identified early, (11) including pests or disease, or trees that (12) have fallen or are affecting the growth of others. All of these points are just a small sampling of what it means to be a tree rancher for better profits and more valuable wood. Please visit Amazonia Reforestation at to find out how you can help with our tree ranching efforts.


  1. Tree ranching includes the following actions for maximizing returns on investment: (1) tree nursery
    using tractors and deep ploughs to loosen the soil before planting

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