Year 2016, Volume 62, Issue 1

Year : 2016
Volume : 62
Issue : 1
   
Authors : Ivan R. KENNEDY, Nishath GANGULI
Title : N2-FIXING TREES FOR PROFITABLE FARM FORESTRY
Abstract : N2-fixing casuarinas and acacias are indigenous components of the Australian flora, both families making significant contributions to the nitrogen economy of natural ecosystems. For the brigalow-belah dominated areas in northern Australia, their inputs of nitrogen allowed production of wheat using the high levels of NH4+-saturated clay for many years. However, despite the centres of origin for both families being in Australasia, their potential in Australian farm-forestry using rotations of less than five years has been little explored. Active applied research into the Casuarinaceae (Allocasuarina, Casuarina, Gymnostoma, Ceuthostoma) and its N2-fixing microsymbiont Frankia is largely restricted to India, China and France. Farmers in India are pioneering profitable farming of casuarinas for paper manufacture in 3-year rotational cycles with rice. We propose major investment in a new rural scheme to promote the application of casuarinas on Australian farms and to develop local rural secondary industries with strong cash flow, responsive to market forces. Large scale carbon sequestration (up to 20 tonnes dm/ha/annum) can theoretically be achieved, reducing N-fertiliser use and expanding farmers' product and cash flow options, using vertically integrated production to maximise their value. These forest products include wood and fuel pellets, paper pulp, charcoal for hydrogen production, N-fertiliser and volatile chemicals, even including ammonia and hydrogen. One million ha of casuarinas could produce $50 million of C-neutral N-fertiliser per annum as by-product, or adequate ammonia as stock for electricity generation or H2 production using the N2 fixation reaction for heat storage. This paper will examine the prospect for integrated uses of these under-utilised genetic resources, planning the required applied research in profitable fire-resistant landscape design and community economic development, also confirming feasibility in terms of underlying principles of energetics and action thermodynamics.
For citation : Kennedy, I., Ganguli, N. (2016): N2-fixing trees for profitable farm forestry. Agriculture and Forestry, 62(1):29-36. DOI:10.17707/AgricultForest.62.1.02
Keywords : Casurinaceae, Acacias, Frankia, nitrogen fixation, hydrogen, ammonia
   
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ISSN 0554-5579 (Printed)
ISSN 1800-9492 (Online)
DOI : 10.17707/AgricultForest

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