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Spruce Pirate

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Everything posted by Spruce Pirate

  1. Sounds interesting J. I've often wondered about a similar set up for 1st thinnings in spruce, but never got as far as actually costing anything. A couple of thoughts...… When you load the whole tree onto the forwarding trailer, with them being largely dead, brittle ash you're likely to break a lot of the branches off. Some of these will get left behind in the wood, mostly the smaller ones, but hopefully you'll retain many in the bunk. This might actually increase the capacity per load if I'm not mistaken? The same at the point of chipping, hopefully it will be more compact, resulting in more material per grab getting fed into the chipper. Jenkys are extracting brash from the mats along the road for us and chipping into walking floors in the wood, so there must be some sort of money in it. Clearfell, after everything has been extracted the forwarder lifts all the mats, stacks brash at roadside, tracked chipper comes in, loaded by excavator with grab straight into a walking floor. Commercial operation, non-grant aided as far as I know, customer getting a return on the brash. On a slight downside, if the spacing is that tight then a 30' pole is going to be quite something to manoeuvre around! Either you're going to skin the retained trees which isn't going to be good or you're going to break the poles, especially as they're brittle ash. Realistically I'd think you'd probably do both which is the worst combination. There are good reasons for short-wood working in thinnings as opposed to long-wood. Be interested to see how you get on with it and if the figures add up.
  2. Knowing practically nothing about coppicing I have a romantic image of hand-cutting and brash bonfires. That said there's a bit along the road that's grown for biomass which is cut with a forager. Is it a forage harvester you're talking about or forestry harvester or specific coppice harvester?
  3. Plenty of narrow roads on the continent: By now you really should have learned that everything is better up here!!!
  4. FC are now running Peugeot Partners with 4*4 around here. Look good vans, good enough ground clearance, 4*4 if it's a bit greasy. Towing not great obviously, but look good vans for the woods.
  5. Is this like a sweepstake? Is there a prize for closest guess? 15:47 on the 31st of this month - N/S wingmirror.
  6. I think a good assessor will decide whether someone is competent pretty quickly. How a person looks, acts, what condition their kit is in, what kit they've got all help to inform an assessor whether or not the candidate knows what they're doing or not. That is if the assessor themselves knows what they're about. The blethering and having a cup of tea should then confirm experiencea and underlying knowledge. After that a good assessor should know if they need to spend 45 minutes cutting a couple of trees to confirm what they think or whether they want to do lots of trees to make sure someone is actually up to scratch. So either you have a full day cutting getting refreshed or you only do a wee bit followed by a lot of gossip, reminiscing and drinking tea. This last part should still count as refresher as it is more than likely vocational and will cover all sorts of different scenarios and how they were / should have been dealt with. Never underestimate the importance of a good blether!
  7. Dendroctonus micans? Great spruce bark beetle, plenty of info on FC site about them.
  8. Bottle jack and a plate is by far the cheapest option. You can get a Tree Jack, but they're 5*, 6*, 10* the price. As above a slight angle down toward the felling direction helps keep it in place. Back it up with wedges.
  9. It's the last day of my easter "holiday" and I need to be up early tomorrow so I'll re-read your post tomorrow when my brain is working properly. All I can remember right now is that the yield models show as little as 3 years between thinnings for sitka so you're not totally out with going in so soon.
  10. Trouble is....... What is classed as a thinning machine? In Conor's example an Ergo isn't exactly a small machine, certainly not in first thinnings. Put almost any off the shelf machine from any of the big manuracturers into first thinnings and it'll look HUGE. What the manufacturers class as thinnings machines are, in my opinion, really more suited to later thinnings. In order to do first thinnings properly you're looking as specialist small scale machinery (such as yours J) or going back to hand cutting - or a combination of both. Problem then is a lack of funds to cover the costs. Problem if you put machines that are too big in is you end up skinning trees and damaging the ground , you end up with butt rot and potentially unstable crops. The result can be seen all over the place either non-thin regime or a delayed thin, more instability followed by premature clearfell. There's still quite a bit of figuring out to be done in the thinning conundrum, small scale equipment seems to be getting better, but I thing there's still a bit to do to persuade people (owners / investors) that it's worthwhile doing properly. I should add that I'm talking really about upland spruce (sitka) forests, those who are luckier to be lower down with better soils and more diverse crops may be able to make thinnings work easier.
  11. I don't think that's really any new news as far as the industry is concerned. Been found more on native pine largely due to looking for it more rather than any big jump in spread as far as I can see. It is now so endemic in plantation stuff that its no longer surveyed for by the FC in plantations. The native pinewoods it could have an effect on, especially in tight canopys and thicket stages. Stuff we looked at in Tentsmuir Forest a few years ago that was really badly infected and very sparse in needle coverage has recovered very well thanks to intensive thinning to let the air flow through. Native pinewoods with non-intervention managment policies might suffer quite badly if there are areas of dense canopy. On the other hand, as I understand it, it's very rarely fatal to trees so they might be able to withstand it.
  12. Outside the house last year.
  13. Dothistroma has been found on spruces, but not to any significant degree as far as I'm aware. The pictures looks more like Elatobium (spruce aphid) to me, but I'm not totally sure. Could also be wind blast if there's been a particularly cold east wind? Just scrolled up to look at pictures again and saw your post, so yes, I'd agree with that.
  14. Depends on where you are. FCS are now Scottish Forestry or Forestry & Land Scotland, not sure exactly what they're calling themselves, but they're still basically the same organisation. Almost all cutting work with FCS is now on a multi-supplier framework agreement so it depends on who you're working for as to what you'll get as well as what level of skill and experience you bring to it. Our rates with them are pretty healthy, although there's still room for improvement in some areas. Unfortunately the days of being able to rock up to the forest office and pick up a bit of cutting work locally are now long gone so if you're looking for cutting work with the Forestry, certainly in Scotland, you'll need to find out which contractors are on their agreements and get in touch with them.
  15. I've done quite a few of these over the years for different folks. Have used oak, lime, sitka, larch and possible ash, but can't remember for sure. I tend to cut them a few days to a week before they're needed as it lets the fresh smell disipate a wee bit, but keeps them from cracking too quickly. Most folk only want them for single use anyway so if the split in the long run its not a big deal. The spruce ones were for the community council for some event and are stored in our shed, they've stood up surprisingly well with very few split after over a year, they're only about 6" diameter so that might make a difference. Have done some up to about 2' diameter for cake stands, not sure how well they stood the test of time.
  16. It's something that I've often heard quoted Gary, but I've never quite understood as clearly trees have been growing quite happily by themselves for a very, very long time. I think the theory is that by notch planting the roots are put into the ground deeper to start off with but self seeders tend to spread out on the surface more. It is fair to say that this is in the context of conifers rather than broadleaf's. It also assumes that the trees are planted right!
  17. A few thoughts..... Nat regen is generally unreliable for tree crops as seed fall, conditions, germination rates and spacing are all unpredictable. None of these are insurmountable problems, especially if you are wanting to establish an amenity woodland rather than a commercial crop. Bad Points: Timescale can be highly variable, you may get a good crop quickly, but it might take a prolonged period of time. This can be problematic if grants are being claimed or if the landowner wants to see results. Spacing again can be highly variable, you may have areas of a site with 10K+ stems per ha and others at sub 1K / ha meaning you spend a lot on either enrichment planting or cleaning. Species can be unpredictable, almost bound to get birch, other species can be less reliable. Shallow rooting, generally considered that self seeders do not root as well as planted trees (although quite how natural forests have managed to survive quite so well if this is the case has always puzzled me). A lot of the savings are simply not there - if you're talking about doing ground prep to encourage nat regen then you might as well plant (cost not that much more for a more guaranteed result); if you're talking about having to stake and tube any planted trees then the nat regen is also going to need some form of protection. Good Points: Saves you buying and planting trees. Minimal ground prep. Spacing and size class more variable over site (if this is what you want). Trees grow from local seed (phenotype??) better environmentally. You can always go back and do enrichment planting later if you have/want to. Not sure of soil conditions on your site, in my experience birch will regenerate almost anywhere from dry to wet, cherry a little bit more unpredictable. Bramble is a problem for all large mamals moving through, this is a nightmare for those of us who have to work in these places, but it will also keep the nibblers largely at bay. Bramble can suppress trees and cause poor form as a result, again this needn't be a problem if it isn't going to be a crop. If it's only 4.5 acres that's roughly 2 ha so you're not really looking at that much planting, albeit if you can save yourself some planting that's probably a good thing. What's happening in the 4.5 acres being thinned, are you looking for regen under the remaining crop? If so would it be worth fencing the whole thing as opposed to using tubes on the clearfell? I've never heard of anyone broadcasting seed as a form of establishement, but this doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I have the feeling that you'd end up paying a seed collector or nursery a lot of money for seed to get a result which isn't guaranteed and would be slightly pointless if you've got seed trees on site which would give the same result.
  18. It's a mini-skidder. Czeck machine, imported by RIKO. Winch rated to pull a ton, can pull a wee bit more, but not much (1.2 is the record so far. Pretty mobile, easily transported, good for small scale stuff.
  19. I use two Quick Fists. (Google Quick Fist). Could be mounted either vertically or horizontally, or anywhere in between for that matter.
  20. Got one of these if you're interested. Low ground pressure, crosses soft ground pretty well. Could travel to the islands if necessary, drop me a PM if you're interested.
  21. Know a few folk who've done it with these. Supposed to be pretty good and do courses all over the place so relatively easy to find one. https://www.cafirstaid.co.uk/about-us/
  22. Ah, the dulcet tones of a rock breaker! My favourite time working on roadlines is when they stop pecking and go back to stripping. Scenery and tree size here not quite as impressive as yours but the soundtrack is similar.
  23. I had a lot of bother with the ear defender popping out when I first got the Husky Technical helmet, then one day it just popped back in perfectly and been fine ever since. Not sure what I did differently, it looked alright, but was forever popping out. Must be something subtle I'd missed.


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