Tree planting advice just an app away

The West Australian

Farmers in the Wheatbelt wanting to know where to plant forage shrubs and trees will soon have this much-needed advice at their fingertips.

Natural resource management group Wheatbelt NRM has developed the Seedling Selector app, which can be downloaded on to any Smartphone, to guide farmers through the decision making process.

Official program and field day guide in the COUNTRYMAN newspaper, August 22, 2013

The idea came from Wheatbelt NRM project manager Georgie Troup, after seeing how useful the software could be to farmers while they were out working in the paddock.

"Instead of having to wait for advice, farmers can tap in information as they come across potential sites," Ms Troup said.

"This includes soil type, salinity levels, rainfall and drainage and then what the farmer wants to achieve from planting, whether it be for a commercial timber crop or grazing.

"The app generates a list of species suitable for the site, helping to take the guess work out of what to plant where."

The software has taken 18 months to develop and uses information from different sources including the CSIRO, the Australian Sandalwood Network, DAFWA and Greening Australia.

Advice is offered for more than 45 different forage shrubs and agroforestry options on farm.

The other information it provides includes how best to establish the species including planting design, grazing and harvest management.

Ms Troup said the app was easy to use.

"When you log in, the first question asked is what rainfall zone the site falls in, and then a sliding scale for different characteristics appears," she said.

"This includes if the site is well drained through to waterlogged, saline through to fresh and then soil type being sandy through to clay.

"Farmers will also be asked what they hope to do with the site, whether it is for timber production, forage shrubs, sandalwood, brushwood, oil mallee, biodiversity and biomass."

As you scroll through the app, advice is given including the risk of possible pest and disease problems and how to optimise returns through improved management, including thinning and pruning for timber crops and planting at high density will encourage upright growth.

Development of the app has been through the Australian Government's Caring for our Country program.

The Seedling Selector app will be available to farmers to download for free and officially launched at the Dowerin Field Days at site 106 at the Wheatbelt NRM tent.

For more information on the Seedling Selector, please contact Georgie Troup on 9670 3100 or visit the Wheatbelt NRM tent.

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Site: 106

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