Your farm’s hidden asset:
Source: Billy Thomas, UK extension forestry specialist
Maximizing every bit of profit from a farm is one of the keys to success. One thing that may not be at the top Kentucky landowners’ minds is their farm’s woodlands, but woodlands should be thought about and managed just like crops, fields, gardens or other agricultural endeavors.
Farmers can benefit by understanding the industry and learning basic forestry concepts, such as how to control light and density, manage pests and steward a forest to make it healthier and sustainable.
There also can be important tax benefits for timber owners, and secondary markets may be available for nontimber products such as hunting leases, ginseng, shiitake mushrooms and fence posts.
It may be a surprise to learn that timber, the majority of it privately grown and processed, is one of the largest agriculture and natural resource industries in Kentucky.
The statistics are impressive: Kentucky ranks as one of the top three hardwood producing states in the United States. (Pennsylvania and Tennessee usually account for the other top spots in the hardwood timber business.) Twelve million acres, almost half of Kentucky’s land base, are forested.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the total economic impact of Kentucky’s forests and related industries contributes more than $8 billion each year to the state’s economy, and it employs more than 30,000 people. Most of Kentucky’s forests consist of hardwoods, with oaks, yellow poplar, hickories, ash, cherry and walnut contributing to the economic value of the forest industry.
Woodlands also are valuable for providing habitat to a wealth of wildlife, from black bears to bobcats. These woodlands also serve as a backdrop for much of the recreational and tourist activities in the state.
Another important contribution of woodlands, but harder to put a dollar figure on, are the ecosystem services such as water and air filtration, carbon sequestration and flood control they provide.
More than 11 million of Kentucky’s 12 million forested acres are classified as timberland, meaning they are capable of growing commercial timber at a rate of 115 board feet of wood volume per acre per year. (A board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch).
Logging in Kentucky is renewable, as tree growth in the state exceeds annual timber removal. The industry also ensures that commercial operations have a Master Logger graduate on-site and follow best management practices for protecting water quality at harvest sites.
Sawmills and other industries produce much less waste than in the past, utilizing all but five percent of wood residue, down from 35 percent in the 1970s. Advances in machinery and utilization of sawdust and bark residue have fueled this significant reduction in waste.
Now, mulch, fuel, composite wood products, charcoal and animal bedding are made from leftover wood, reducing the industry’s impact on the environment. Anyone who is interested in learning more about how to realize a potential economic value from forested land has many resources. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service offers technical training classes and wood center utilization programs, professional forestry workshops, technical publications, logger training and more. It also offers the Woodland Owners Short Course, a yearly learning conference, with two different experience levels.
For more information, visit www.ukforestry.org and www.ukwoodcenter.net or contact the Clinton County Cooperative Extension Service. (606) 387-5404
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.
Upcoming meetings at the
Clinton County Extension
The Clinton County Extension Service will offer a series of webinars on Forestry topics. The meetings will be live via computer from the University of Kentucky, please call the Extension office if you would like to attend one or all three meetings at (606) 387-5404.
October 1st 6:00pm-7:00pm (CST) – Tree Identification:
Tree Identification; October 1; Doug McLaren, Extension Forester Description: There are more than 100 native trees in Kentucky and being able to tell one from another is not only enjoyable but an important skill when caring for your trees and woodland. This webinar will teach participants how to use tree characteristics in the process of grouping and eventually identifying individual trees. Knowing the trees in your yard or woodlands can make your time outdoors more enjoyable and rewarding. The process of identifying trees by use of a tree identification key is designed for all age groups.
October 8th 6:00pm-7:00pm (CST)
Woodland Management & Forest Certification:
Woodland Management and Forest Certification; October 8; Billy Thomas, Extension Forester, and Christopher Reeves, Certification Forester Description: Kentucky’s woodlands can be a valuable asset for their owners if they are given the proper care. Learn about the process of caring for your woodlands including activities, sources of assistance (including financial), and practices that will enhance your woodlands. You will also learn how forest certification is benefiting woodland owners in Kentucky; these benefits include increased markets and price premiums being received by woodland owners for their timber, increased technical assistance, and global recognition of your good stewardship. Certification is one of the many tools you will learn about in this webinar that can assist you in caring, protecting, and managing your woodlands for the future.
November 12th 6:00 pm-7:00pm (CST) – Selling Timber:
Selling Timber; November 12; Jeff Stringer, Forestry Extension Professor Description: Participants will be provided up-to-date information on how to maximize timber revenues while protecting and improving their woodlands. Topics include how to sell your timber to maximize revenue and minimize taxes, how to use consultants and the Kentucky Division of Forestry to your advantage, selecting loggers and other important topics.