In our “Field Trip” feature, we take readers into the field with a NCDA&CS employee to find out more about the varied types of work that go on in the department.
One of the signature qualities of North Carolina is the lushness of its land and forests. Anytime I fly, I marvel at the agricultural fields — laid out in a neat patchwork pattern below, the greenness of forestland, and the brilliant or deep-hued blues of lakes and ponds.
This same land also yields many valuable resources, which have been the foundation for the state’s development and growth. Food, fiber and wood products are all commodities produced in the state. And they are all renewable resources, if properly managed.
David Schnake is a forester who works with the department’s Research Stations Division. The majority of timberland in North Carolina is owned by private landowners. Some of the work Schnake is involved with helps or will help landowners make decisions on how to care for and manage their own timberlands.
While forestland is renewable, it typically takes 20 years or more for trees to reach maturity, so long-term research is important to understanding the best practices for managing forestlands.
Watch as David talks about his work and a 42-acre water quality project he is involved with at Umstead Research Farm.
As David explains in the video, research is critical to helping farmers or timberland owners make important decisions about their land. Harvesting timber from the land is important to overall forest health, and receipts from timber sales add to the economy and enable many landowners to keep land that has been in their families for many years.
After timber is harvested, the land is prepped and replanted to start production of the next generation of trees. Prepping land can take many forms depending on its location and the types of trees landowners hope to produce. In the second segment of this video David talks about using prescribed burns to prep the land and how wood chips and tree debris may one day be a viable fuel source.
The Research Stations Division manages 18 stations statewide, facilitating and supporting research staff from N.C. State University, N.C. A&T University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.