NZDFI eucalypts can produce ground-durable posts and poles for New Zealand’s burgeoning viticulture and horticulture sectors. Producers are already facing increased problems associated with CCA-treated posts, in particular with their disposal. Sustainable/organic producers also need an alternative to CCA-treated radiata pine posts and poles.
The origins of the NZDFI were based around the perceived potential for a durable hardwood post and pole market in Marlborough vineyards, which now total close to 30,000 hectares. Vineyards have approximately 600 posts per hectare, so there are already over 18 million posts in use in Marlborough alone. Mechanical grape harvesting leads to high breakage rates of the brittle softwood posts (estimated at 3% of posts/year, or 540,000 posts/year just for replacements in Marlborough). Durable eucalypt posts are harder and less brittle than softwood posts, and can be disposed of e.g. as firewood or chips with no environmental problems.
NZDFI began working with vineyard owners in the early 2000s, and between 2006 and 2009 deployed 1400 durable eucalypt posts in a number of vineyards and orchards in Marlborough. After a decade in service, performance of the posts was good, with minimal decay. Read our report here.
A recent review of markets for posts (Altaner 2020) concluded that average wholesale prices for naturally durable posts on the international markets are some NZ$700/m3, whereas No. 3 CCA treated pine posts on the domestic market have a value of NZ$380/m3.
Another recent project researched the market for CCA-treated timber in the primary production sector (van Bruchem, 2020). Three techniques were used to estimate the size and possible value of the CCA-treated wood market for NZ’s primary industries. The report estimated post demand by farming, viticulture and the apple and kiwifruit sectors is 300,000m3 annually. The annual value of this market is estimated at $210-240 million based on retail value of $700-800 per m3.