Knowledge Hub

ActivAcre in Action – A Farmer’s Journey

March 2024

Keeton Miles has been on parts of his 600-acre farm in Nietta in Tasmania’s northwest for all his 76 years. During this time the farm has produced certified seed potatoes, turnips and swedes, grown tree plantations and run beef cattle and fat lambs.

This month, ActivAcre began planting 70 hectares of eucalyptus nitens on an area of the farm Keeton describes as “Too steep, too rocky and too distant from the base farm to be used for anything else.”

Forestry and Agriculture Working Better Together

When asked why Keeton wanted to transform the scrubby area he replied “I believe all unproductive land, public and private, should be used for wood production. Firstly, there is a financial benefit to the farmer and secondly, if you analyse what is being produced from wood today, you’ll find it is one of the most productive resources providing for the needs of society.

I’m only a layman, but I know enough to know there are many products that can be provided by wood and the bi-products from harvesting timber. There is an economic benefit for everyone.

Keeton says growing trees is like any other crop, “you prepare the site, plant the product and harvest. But unlike potatoes, which that are planted annually, timber, depending on the plan, can be 15 or 30 years before you harvest. You then prepare the ground again for a new plantation and it’s not long and it looks rather spectacular again.”

The added benefit of planting via the ActivAcre program is that the lease agreement allows you to profit not just from the harvest, but also from carbon sequestration throughout the plantation lifecycle. Ultimately making each hectare of your land more valuable over the long term when compared to traditional forestry plantations.  

Why Choose the ActivAcre Program for Your Property?

Keeton chose to sign a lease with ActivAcre as they manage the project from site preparation right through until the timber is sold.

ActivAcre is managed by SFM, a Tasmanian-owned plantation and natural assets management company that has been operating since 2001. Their management team oversees more than 50,000 Ha of land assets across Australia and New Zealand. SFM supports farmers and corporate landowners with a deep operational knowledge of sustainable commercial plantation forestry, carbon projects and natural asset management.

SFM managed the sale of our previous plantation, so I knew about them

“They were good businesspeople to work with and good people to get on with.” 

ActivAcre tailors every project to the specific farm and farmer. So no two projects are the same. This collaboration leads to a specific agreement being made to achieve the maximum potential on each farm site. The flexibility of the program is fundamental to its success, with ActivAcre using variables like the size of the planting area, management history, rainfall, terrain and location to determine a lease offer specific to each farm.

Why Not Manage Your Own Plantation?

“I considered doing it myself, but obviously there would have been a big financial layout – it’s no small amount to plant a plantation. And with ActivAcre there is annual income from day one.”

You also don’t have to worry about the market side of things – the sale of the timber at the other end. ActivAcre does it all

The selection of species for Keeton’s farm was made by ActivAcre. Land Assessment Manager Alex Tabor said Eucalyptus nitens was chosen because the site has high rainfall and high productivity that suits the species.

“The nitens in the existing plantations are leaping out of the ground, they look magnificent. The trees we are planting now are being grown for long-term products, ideally large-diameter pulp or sawn timber. There are export ports close by at Burnie and Bell Bay and the property is in close proximity to sawmills in the north of the state, which makes Keeton’s property ideal for plantations.”

What are the Benefits of Forestry Plantations on Farm Land?

When asked about the benefits of plantations Keeton said:  “All land needs something growing on it to control erosion, and when the trees are high enough to provide shelter there are benefits to the stock. Trees break the wind. You will always find on cold, windy days that the cattle will look for shelter in the paddock, behind or in the trees. They get out of the wind and that leads to needing less feed to keep them warm. The aesthetic value of trees is also important. They look good around the property.”

When asked if Keeton would recommend ActivAcre services to other farms he said: “Farmers need to do their own due diligence but I’m very comfortable using them. The security it brings to a family income is not to be discounted. You write a contract for 30 years, ours is indexed. And that’s very important, especially in farming.


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