Harvesting equipment is generally designed to perform a limited number of tasks. Those operations (described below), may occur at the tree stump, during in-woods transport from the stump to the landing, or at the landing. While some logging businesses consist of one person who operates different pieces of equipment during the course of the harvest, others have several employees, each operating one piece of equipment. If possible, recommend that the logger power wash all equipment before taking it into the sale area. This may help reduce the spread of invasive or noxious weeds if seed is embedded in dirt or debris that may be clinging to the equipment.
Operations at the Stump
Operations at the stump always include felling the tree. Felling may be done by a chainsaw, feller-buncher, or a processor (Figure 9-2). After felling, the tree may be further processed by removing the limbs and top and by bucking (cutting) it into individual product sections. When material is being transported to a landing, leave the limbs and tops at or near the stump to help avoid scarring remaining trees. This makes even more sense if markets limit the use of this material or if the soil tends to be nutrient deficient. Removing the entire tree may be the preferred option where there are concerns about pest invasions after the harvest, when the whole tree will be processed at the landing, or to make it easier to cut firewood from the residue.
Transporting Material from the Stump to the Landing
Short logs, tree-length material, or whole trees may be transported from the stump to the landing either by skidding (dragging them on the ground) or forwarding (carrying them completely off the ground). Timber can be dragged to the landing using a rubber-tired or tracked skidder, farm tractor, or horse, or carried on a forwarder (see Figure 9-2). A rubber-tired skidder is lighter weight, less expensive, faster, and provides better traction over rocks than a tracked skidder. The tracked skidder, on the other hand, may compact the soil less, provide better traction in mud and slippery soils, and be less likely to create deep ruts. Wide tires on a rubber-tired skidder provide similar benefits to a tracked skidder.
Figure 9-2. Logging Equipment. - Chainsaw - Log truck - Feller-buncher - Rubber-tired skidder - Whole-tree chipper - and chip van - Knuckle-boom loader - Slasher - Forwarder - Processor - Tub grinder
Farm tractors sometimes are used for skidding, but they usually need modifications to become effective, safe skidders. A winch connected to the tractor?fs power take-off (PTO) is an important asset. Some also require shields beneath their bodies to protect them from damage by high stumps and rocks.
Forwarding machines are equipped with a hydraulic loading boom and have a bunk for holding a load of logs. Forwarders frequently travel on the debris (slash) from limbs and tops to avoid rutting the soil.
At the landing, material may be delimbed, topped, bucked or slashed into product lengths; debarked, chipped or ground and blown into a van; or loaded directly onto a trailer before being transported over haul roads to a mill or other site. Landing equipment may include a chainsaw, slasher, chipper, or tub grinder (Figure 9-2).
If bucking, debarking, or other processing occurs on the landing, some limbs, bark, or other woody debris could become piled. That residual wood could be returned to the forest and dispersed by a skidder to redistribute nutrients back to their source. It also could be converted to chips by a chipper or tub grinder, cut for firewood, burned, or left to decay.
Because of the variety of operations that may occur at a landing, it may be as small as the area adjacent to the haul road or a quarter acre in size or larger. Make it large enough to allow the equipment to operate efficiently, to store products that have not been hauled to the market, for trucks to enter and leave, and for safety. Your forester can help determine the most appropriate size for your landing or landings.
Your forester should recommend harvesting equipment that is most appropriate to your management goals and desired outcomes. Some of the most important considerations for choosing timber harvesting equipment are described in the following list.