Planting and Growing Eucalyptus
Much like Miscanthus, Eucalypts are species that have been brought to the UK from abroad. There are many hundreds of species of Eucalyptus to be found in their native Australia.
In terms of being grown as an Energy Crop, Eucalyptus is a newcomer and there is not a large body of scientific data available to draw from. Variety selection is of vital importance; for example, some lowland preferring species simply will not thrive in any other type of location. Conversely, the altitude-loving types which can survive harsh winters, typically produce lower yields. Eucalypts are also considered to be water-hungry and are capable of negatively affecting ground water availability. These trees are oil-rich and some of the oils they produce will result in a likely negative effect on bio-diversity. Eucalypts are not suitable for all locations and Environmental Impact Assessments must be made before planting.
Eucalyptus can be grown as Short Rotation Forestry or Short Rotation Coppice. This decision should very much be made with your end market in mind. Coppiced Eucalyptus is not so attractive as a chipped fuel due to its bark/wood ratio but SRC has many other advantages. SRF Eucalyptus may be better suited to wood fuel production – the logs burn well without spitting and with a fragrant aroma.
Energy Crops Consultancy can advise you on choice of Eucalypt species for your land and location. Whilst there is an issue with Eucalyptus not having the proven heritage of Willow, Poplar and Miscanthus for example, it is definitely worth exploring if you’re prepared to experiment with your mixed species SRF.