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Biomass fuel (alien trees)


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Either an open fireplace in the lounge, closed combustion fireplace in the bedroom, or a wood burning oven in the kitchen (I suffer from pyromania). The logs are sized for for the fireplaces. Generally black wattle is a better fuel for closed fireplaces as it is denser and makes better coals, for an open fireplace blue gum flames more and radiates more heat.

From my experience of clearing many hectares of alien trees, you can clear blue gum in about 2 or 3 seasons. First cut the trees and poison the stumps. Next season you may get a few coppices or new trees so do the same again. By the third season there are only a few sprouts which you can poison and that is that. The seeds dont last that long.

Black wattle is another story as the seeds can last many years and still be viable. I have sorted them out by using grazing animals to snip the new sprouts but it takes some time and persistence. If you burn areas of cleared black wattle, then most of the seeds will all sprout at once, so if you graze after that you get most of them. 

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I am learning so much about trees here now it is amazing.

I just installed a closed combustion fireplace, ordered a load of Bluegum and struggled badly with getting it to burn properly without adding some kind of much lighter wood that burns easier. I even wondered what if I tried blackwattle, and randomly had my questions answered by your thread. Thank you 🙂

 

 

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Just make sure that the wood is properly dry (like 3 months) and you shouldn't have problems. Actually knowing some guys that cut wood commercially around here, you can get wood at really good prices in summer when no one wants it, then the prices move up towards winter.

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Its a bit of a bugbear/hobby horse of mine about alien plants growing on vacant land. You can just take a look around the landscape and see where the land is unused, abandoned, or owned by someone who generally cares or does nothing about the land that they own. I have cleared my place, and now cut on neighbour's land who don't bother about sorting it out. Where I am cutting now belongs to a weekend farmer who had sheep and cattle. Fully 30% of the farm is invaded by black wattle, such that its grazing potential is now about zero. Does he bother to clean it up? No, he rather complains about how much feed he has to buy in.  This is despite me making the case over and over again to clear it. Another neighbour calls me in panic when there is a veld fire getting into the blue gums next to their house, can I bring my firefighter to put out their blue gums? Despite me pointing out that blue gums in winter are incendiary and they should get a firefighter for when they burn.

Sigh.  

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4 hours ago, DeepBass9 said:

bugbear/hobby horse of mine about alien plants growing on vacant land

My father has been in this game for decades. For them it is "Swarthaak", a kind of Acacia that isn't really indigenious to the area. He discovered something about it though: You shouldn't remove all of it. Many farmers thought that was the way, take them all out, more grazing they thought. What they are beginning to realize is that this plant, being a legume, puts nitrogen into the soil, and the leaves are edible and are eaten by animals. A couple of swarthaak bushes can be worth their weight in gold in a drought when there is nothing else...

So what needs to be done is to literally farm with the alien plants. Keep them in check, but don't exterminate them. Also, don't cart everything away and sell it for firewood, it leaves the soil poorer. You can use a chemical process to kill them, but when they die you should leave them where they are and let natural decomposition happen. The dying plant material also covers the soil and helps other organisms to do their job, which in turn helps new grass to grow there.

I am pretty sure none of this applies to wattle, but there it is 🙂

Something else that can be an interesting conversation starter: Point out that all energy is solar energy. It all comes from the sun originally. What differs is the length of the energy cycle. For coal it is thousands of years. For wood it's a few years. For PV modules it is instant.

If you really want to rile up some greenies, point out that all energy is essentially nuclear. The sun is a kind of nuclear reactor... 😉

 

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That is true, all the indigenous acacias are legumes, in fact one of the characteristics of sweetveld is that it it has a fair number of acacias. Acacia karoo is a pioneer here so I encourage that and raise and plant seedlings into the cleared areas. The trees bring minerals up from deep in the soil, fix nitrogen and provide shade so it is a win win. Once the acacias are above goat and sheep grazing height, I cut off all of the lower branches so they can grow and spread. Where I have cleared the aliens there are too many stumps to plough and plant pasture, so I encourage the indigenous bush to grow back. Fortunately my place was not infested for too long and there are areas of bush that act as a seed bank for the birds to spread the seeds around.

The problem with wattle is that nothing grows underneath it and it poisons the soil, so you get erosion and general complete degradation. Its only saving grace is that it makes good firewood!

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