Lachlan Fisher travelled to the United Kingdom and India to research the propagation, growing and processing of cricket bat willow.
The main body of his project was completed in Essex where most of the timber is grown and processed. Based on his research, Lachlan completed an ABC of the industry with cross referencing to Australia.
Lachlan found that the most important aspect of this industry is to plant the trees in the right places. Although a simple statement, with this type of Agroforestry it is a long time to discover the tree is of poor quality or is not growing as it should.
Given the right conditions in Southern Australia, growing Cricket Bat Willow can generate very good additional farm income. Lachlan discovered that Cricket Bat Willow is in great demand and there are times when the timber is not available in the various grades needed for the bat manufacturers. The increased demand for Bat Willow in India and Pakistan has put pressure on the English Suppliers. Australia will supply commercial Bat Willow in a few years’ time.
In Essex Lachlan worked with the company, Anglian Willow Service, based in High Ongar near Chelmsford. The Watling family own the business and were very helpful in providing information and showing Lachlan the total industry; from the propagation of young trees, through to tree management to harvesting and milling. The lessons learnt with this company are being applied and adapted to conditions here in Southern Australia. Doug Watling was particularly helpful in identifying and explaining the diseases that afflict the commercial Bat Willow Trees.
Whilst in Essex Lachlan also met with Carleton Wright, the owner of J. S. Wright & Sons Willow Merchants. This company is the biggest willow supplier in the world contributing approximately 280,000 rough blocks to bat manufacturers annually. Carleton Wright was most helpful and open in providing information about the industry and gave an overview of the history, the market, pitfalls and diseases.
From the UK Lachlan travelled to India where at Meerut, outside Delhi he gave a presentation to Mr N. K. Sareen, the owner of Sareen Sports, the biggest importer of Bat Willow from England. Mr Sareen was most interested in the industry in Australia and looked forward to using this willow. He was very helpful in providing the market figures for willow importation into India and Pakistan.
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