Trees are an important part of any farm. They reduce erosion and flooding, absorb air pollutants, provide habitat for insect-eating birds, and cast shade to help livestock stay cool. They produce crops, too, whether it’s fruit and nuts at an orchard or wood at a tree farm.
But trees also face their own challenges. They can be struck by lightning or stricken by disease, leaving them undesirable for timber or unable to produce marketable fruit. They are subject to storms and weather events that can uproot or otherwise damage them. Even if they’re healthy, they may drop too many limbs, generate subpar materials or leave a farmer with a seemingly useless supply of twigs, stumps and other debris after they’re harvested.
In some cases, however, this kind of “waste wood” can hold hidden value as a source of biomass energy. It may only be a small splinter of the overall biomass market, and it won’t save the world from climate change, but it’s still a potentially useful resource for farmers, rural economies and the ecosystems that support all of us. More >>