Growing and Tending
In line with our mission of managing the plantation estate in a safe and sustainable way to optimise the return to our investors whilst balancing the needs of our employees, customers and local communities; a number of operations occur throughout the life of the rotation, all of these are to ensure the trees grow up healthily. All activities we undertake are carried out in optimal conditions regulated for that activity. This is to protect people, the soil, the environment and the water resources.
Prior to planting the site needs to be prepared. This could involve any or all of the following.
Mechanical Site preparation – using a machine, bulldozer or excavator to cultivate the soil. This might be ripping, mounding, chopper rolling, heaping or track rolling.
Pre-plant weed control– a glyphosate mix might be applied by ground-based machine, helicopter or hand to control weeds
Burning—although burning is kept to an absolute minimum, some burning is carried out to reduce fuel levels and to dispose of excess residues.
There are no mechanical planting machines which can operate safely under our conditions, so every tree, of the average 7 million we plant each year, is individually planted by hand.
After planting, some sites will receive a post-plant weed control. This will be a granulated form of hexazinone applied by either hand or helicopter and will occur within 3 months of planting. Notifications of these operations will be provided to adjacent neighbours, maybe on our website and signage will be up.
Dependent on the site, some areas also receive a post plant fertiliser. This is applied by hand if required in the three months after planting.
A number operations occur throughout the life of the tree, all of these are to ensure that the tree grows up healthily.
If weeds are a real issue there might also be weed control operations carried out in the first four years to assist in the trees survival.
Foliage samples will be taken to check the nutrient status of the stand. These will be collected by hand or by shotgun.
As a result of this sampling fertiliser might be applied by helicopter, plane, machine or hand.
If there is an outbreak of a disease called Dothistroma, an application of a copper solution might be applied.
Harvesting – Thinning
If ground conditions allow, thinning, where a number of trees are removed in rows, is carried out to maintain growth, reduce competition for sunlight, moisture and nutrients and to maintain the healthy condition of the stand. These operations are likely to occur at about 10-13 years and 18-20 years.
Plantation activities are undertaken according to a strict set of environmental controls to ensure the protection of soil, water, cultural heritage, visual amenity, rare and threatened species and surrounding biodiversity.