Planting timber in agricultural systems is a common practice in Indonesia. Farmers often cultivate timber together with other crops to diversify and increase their income. Timber acts as a savings bank: only harvested when large funds are needed. To ensure the best growth of timber, experts recommend that farmers practise silvicultural techniques, which, despite the numerous benefits, are still not widely adopted.
In Gunung Kidul in the province of Yogyakarta and in Sumbawa and South-central Timor in East Nusa Tenggara province, researchers in the Developing and Promoting Market-based Agroforestry Options and Integrated Landscape Management for Smallholder Forestry in Indonesia project explored the factors that encouraged farmers to adopt silvicultural techniques. Their findings have been published in Agroforestry Systems: Adoption of silvicultural practices in smallholder timber and NTFPs production systems in Indonesia. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
Silviculture helps farmers to develop more productive systems and reap greater benefits. For example, pruning leads to knot-free timber, which attracts premium prices; thinning young trees so that the remaining trees do not have as much competition for light and nutrients generates the highest percentage of heartwood volume, meaning bigger trees for harvest and more timber to sell; and intercropping teak with nitrogen-fixing shrubs helps to increase the trees’ diameter while at the same time improving soil conditions, which facilitates faster and stronger growth and bigger trees.
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