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Work Package 2d “Establishing shelter in advance” plots

This trial will investigate the impact of providing shelter in advance of planting a broadleaf crop species. Therefore the trial is designed for the medium-term (10 – 15 years) to the point at which the shelter species is removed. The current spacing configuration for oak/conifer mixtures will be used, as detailed for Grant Premium Category 6 (i.e. alternate lines 2 m apart of broadleaf crop at 0.75 m within the line and shelter species 2 m within the line). At least two trial sites, distributed throughout the country, will be established by WP2d. Species to be investigated will be informed by WP2a. A Randomised Complete Block Design will be used with four treatments and three replicates. Each trial site (see Figure 4) will be approximately 0.75 ha, allowing for open space for access.

Treatments will be:

  • Pure broadleaf crop;
  • Broadleaf crop and shelter planted at the same time;
  • Shelter planted three years in advance of broadleaf crop;
  • Shelter planted four years in advance of broadleaf crop.

Where possible, the Pure broadleaf crop treatment plots will be planted at a distance from the other treatments in an attempt to minimise any sheltering effect from neighbouring plots. At time of establishment of pure broadleaf crop and broadleaf/shelter alternate lines, the shelter lines of the remaining two treatments will also be planted. The crop species will subsequently be planted within these two remaining treatments three years and four years later respectively. It should be noted that some sites will require broadleaf crop establishment and management post 2013.

Figure 7. Experimental design of "Establishing shelter in advance" plots.

Individual plots (Figure 8) will be 24 m x 20 m (approximately 0.05 ha). The 8 m x 10 m “Measurement area”, surrounded by a buffer zone, will contain 28 broadleaf crop measurement trees as per Table 3.

Figure 8. Plot design of "Establishing shelter in advance" plots

Table 3. Number of stems to be measured per treatment type of the "Establishing shelter in advance" plots.
Treatment type Stems per measurement area Stems to be measured per measurement area
Pure broadleaf crop 70 broadleaf crop 28* broadleaf crop
Broadleaf crop with shelter 28 broadleaf crop
33 shelter
28 broadleaf crop
33 shelter
* Only broadleaf crop stems located on lines also available in the shelter treatments will be measured

One shelter-in-advance trial has been established near Charlestown, Co. Mayo, using oak (Quercus robur) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), both of native origin. There are three replicates of four treatments. The treatments are:

  1. pure oak control, planted 2010-11 planting season;
  2. alternate lines, Scot’s pine and oak both planted 2010-11 planting season;
  3. alternate lines, Scot’s pine planted 2010-11 planting season, oak planted 2012-13 planting season;
  4. alternate lines, Scot’s pine planted 2010-11 planting season, oak planted 2014-15 planting season.

The trial continues to be monitored.