Trial Site Name: Phoebe


Robb Macbeth

Phoebe_Robb Macbeth_3

“The concept of planting eucalypts on Phoebe Plains (a 250 ha irrigated dairy farm) originated from the possibility that they could potentially strip nitrogen from soils over time, thus offsetting the environmental impact of nitrate leaching from the property.

After initial conversations with the UC School of Forestry, and some astute input from Paul Millen, the concept rapidly moved to using NZDFI species in the 1.3ha trial site which is in a dry corner of a pivot irrigated block.

Next steps (aside from the normal NZDFI work) will be to attempt to demonstrate whether the trees are effective in stripping nitrogen from the soil, although the science required to do this is still being developed. One added side effect of the trial will be to get a lot dairy farmers scratching their heads as to why a piece of perfectly good dairy land has been planted in trees."

Robb Macbeth


Phoebe Road, Cheviot, North Canterbury

Trials established

  1. Species Demonstration trial (2014): E bosistoana, E camaldulensis, E globoidea, E longifolia, E macrorhyncha, E quadrangulata, E tricarpa

Latest activities and outputs

Phoebe has been hit hard by the North Canterbury drought of 2015-16, so the resilience of these young trees is being seriously tested.

Photos of trial site

Robb MacBethh with John Walker and Euan Mason, University of Canterbury

Robb MacBeth checking out the site pre-planting with John Walker and Euan Mason, University of Canterbury School of Forestry.

The Phoebe site at planting.

The Phoebe site at planting.

View over Phoebe trial, July 2015

View over Phoebe trial, June 2015

Site description

Phoebe is a high-producing irrigated dairy farm, of flat contour with deep heavy soils and high fertility. The site is exposed to north-westerly winds, and can be very dry. However, part of the trial site shows poor drainage with high groundwater levels during late winter or spring in wetter seasons.

Site climate

Annual rainfall 758 mm
Frost free days 210
Feb max temp 22° C
July min temp 0° C
Aspect Flat
Elevation 50m asl


Visiting the site

This trial is on private land. Contact Paul Millen for more details: