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FS has five plantations, with Kununurra

and Kingston Rest plantations in Western

Australia; Douglas Daly and Katherine

plantations in the Northern Territory and the

Burdekin plantation in Queensland. The Burdekin

plantation, which begun in 2012, has roughly 1500

hectares of irrigated and planted land. Mr Barnes,

who helped to set up the operation for Burdekin,

said that the area was previously a sugar cane

plantation, and while the existing irrigation system

could be retained, its design could not fully cater to

the needs of the new plantation.

“The Burdekin area where we are operating is

exclusively flood irrigation, from either a channel

system or an underground pipe system. It is set

up more or less for row cropping like cane, and

we basically needed to find a

way to make the water stretch

further,” Mr Barnes said.



According to Mr Barnes, the

trees need constant watering

to establish as young seedlings,

and the Burdekin plantation

can plant over 100 hectares in

one week.

“You cannot water that

much in a week, so we set up

a temporary drip system when

the trees are young. We lay flat

hose pipe and light wall drip

tape, and run the system to get

them established. That is where the pumps come in,”

Mr Barnes said.

Years earlier, TFS’s Kununurra plantation had

similar issues with drip irrigation. In 2005, the

company started using pumps by Aussie Pumps to

stretch the reach of water within the plantation.

The pumps have allowed TFS to grow in areas

where tree plantations might not otherwise survive.

“We use Aussie Pumps because they are mobile,

we can use them in other places the following

year, or we can move them between sites. They fit

the bill when we need to get the trees established,

and then once they are going, between six to nine

months of age, they only need watering every two

or three weeks. Then we can utilise the existing

infrastructure,” he said.

Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) was founded in 1997 after

successful government trials in the plantation growth of Indian

sandalwood. TFS now manages the largest area of Indian

sandalwood plantation in the world, with over 10,500 hectares

across all sites. PEA reporter Lauren Butler spoke with deputy

general manager of operations for TFS, Matt Barnes, regarding

the Burdekin plantation’s operations, equipment, and the

challenges of irrigating and maintaining the expansive land.


Forestry Services

Plantation pumped for growth


Tropical Forestry Services


Frank Wilson


Burdekin, Queensland


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| JUNE - JULY 2016