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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Effects of boom-corridor thinning on harvester productivity and residual stand structure

Bergstrom, Dan; Fernandez-Lacruz, Raul; de la Fuente, Teresa; Hook, Christian; Krajnc, Nike; Malinen, Jukka; Nuutinen, Yrjo; Triplat, Matevz; Nordfjell, Tomas

Abstract

Biomass derived from small-diameter, dense, thinning stands is largely underutilized within the European Union, mainly because of in-effective harvesting methods and cutting technology, leading to high supply costs. Therefore, the efficacy of boom-corridor thinning (BCT) and selective thinning (ST) on harvester felling and bunching productivity was compared for the first thinning of whole tree biomass in small-diameter, dense stands. BCT working method is when trees are cut with linear movements of the harvester's boom reach, along narrow corridors, instead of cutting each tree selectively (ST). Trials were performed in six forest stands, one in Sweden, two in Finland, and three in Slovenia, using the same harvester and operator. A time-and-motion study was carried out in 64 pre-marked study units (32 replications per method), across a variety of stand conditions. The biomass removal for both treatments averaged 40.2 dry t ha -1 and BCT productivity averaged 5.4 dry t PMh -1. For BCT, harvester work time consumption (sec tree -1) and productivity (dry t PMh -1) were on average 27% lower and 16% higher, respectively, compared with ST. The effectiveness of the accumulating felling head technology used could potentially be increased by implementing a feed-roller system when handling excessive tree lengths. Developing dedicated harvesting technology for BCT could further boost productivity, facilitating cost-effective and sustainable utilization of low-value small-diameter tree biomass and replacing fossil resources.

Keywords

Bioenergy; accumulating felling head; multi-tree handling; silviculture; bioeconomy; forestry

Published in

International Journal of Forest Engineering
2022, Volume: 33, number: 3, pages: 226-242
Publisher: TAYLOR AND FRANCIS INC