Are Poplars and Willows in Your Farm Plan?

Posted on October 20, 2018


  • Poplars and willows are the pre-eminent trees for slope, gully, stream and river protection
  • Once established they reduce slips on hill country by 95%
  • They can dry out wet areas, dewater earth flows, and arrest gully erosion
  • Appropriate tree planting allows greater management focus on remaining pasture land often offsetting pasture lost from tree planting
  • Poplars and willow root systems bind more soil than any other tree used on our farms
  • They add carbon to the soil via their roots and leaf fall.
  • They improve drainage and slow runoff


  • Well managed space planted poplars and willows allow ~ 90% of maximum pasture growth
  • Soil pH is raised through the influence of these trees
  • They reduce evapotranspiration from pasture and reduce summer soil moisture loss


  • P+W also offer great benefits in river management confining rivers within channels and reducing the erosion of river and stream banks
  • Stock utilise their summer shade, and benefit from the shelter
  • Bees collect pollen from willows, propolis and wax from poplars
  • P+W provide fodder options
  • Leaves, stems and bark have pharmaceutical benefits
  • Poplar and willow are suitable trees for farm shelterbelts

Other environmental services

  • They absorb nutrients, particularly nitrogen from groundwater - at deeper levels than pasture
  • They bring deep nutrients to the soil surface layers
  • Poplar and willow trees absorb CO2, moderate the temperature and moisture microclimate

Extra benefits

  • Trees can be managed for timber and wood products
  • Large poplars can supply farm posts, battens and rails
  • Both P+W can be pollarded to keep their size down
  • Both will grow new trees from protected stumps
  • Erosion control/spaced P+W plantings can be eligible to enter the Emissions Trading Scheme