Full text in PDF
At present, only a small proportion of the potential extractable bioenergy from young dense forests in Sweden is utilized. The conventional mechanized first thinning systems used in such stands suffer from low productivity, so the operation is only profitable in stands with bigger trees and high standing volumes. Conventional harvesters are used for this operation equipped with accumulating felling heads designed for handling several trees during each crane cycle. In thinning from below the felling and bunching work requires many time-consuming non-linear crane movements to avoid felling or damaging of future crop trees. However, higher productivity can be achieved when trees between strip roads are harvested in about 1 m-wide corridors with a length corresponding to the reach of the crane. We refer to this operation as boom-corridor thinning. The objective of this study was to compare felling and bunching productivity in young dense stands when employing thinning from below or boom-corridor thinning. Experiments were performed using a randomized block design involving between 4400 and 18 600 trees x ha-1 with a corresponding average tree size of 7.2 and 3.2 cm dbh, respectively. Based on the average tree being removed at a dbh of 5.7 cm, the productivity (ODt x PW-hour-1) was significant (almost 16%) higher for the boom-corridor thinning than for thinning from below treatment. At the same time, the time taken for the work element “Crane in-between” (the period between the loaded crane starting to move towards a tree and the felling head rapidly slowing down for positioning) was significantly reduced, by almost 17%. The positive results were achieved even though the operator was new to the method. To achieve a significantly higher efficiency during the felling and bunching operation, development of new harvesting equipment and operating techniques seems crucial.