Forest establishment & mechanised planting profiled

In Issue61 by FIEA

ForestTECH is this region’s premier forestry technology series. It’s the one forestry technology event that brings together forest resource managers, inventory foresters, remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists and researchers from throughout Australasia. For the last two years, tree crop, forest establishment and silvicultural managers have also been involved as part of this annual series.

In the last 2-3 years, there’s been a resurgence of interest being shown by forestry companies in Australasia on mechanised or automated operations for planting and silviculture. The cost and availability of labour for planting have both been major drivers to testing out mechanised planting operations here in Australasia, just as they have been in Europe and South America and more recently, the USA.

A raft of mechanised planting systems used commercially in New Zealand by Manulife Forest Management and Henry Fear Contracting were profiled to the wider industry as part of the last event, ForestTECH 2021/22 that ran earlier in the year.

Developments out of Europe on mechanised planting, scarifying, ripping and direct seeding along with the integration of irrigation and fertilisation at the time of planting were also detailed by leading European technology suppliers and equipment manufacturers, Risutec, Plantma X and Bracke Forest. Details on content and videos of some of these planting machines in action can be viewed here.

The economics are really starting to stack up. Operational trials and now commercial operations have successfully been undertaken in the central North Island of New Zealand over the last three years with more extensive plantings using mechanical planting systems planned for this year in both the CNI and in northern NSW (with both pine and eucalypts).

As well as integration of the very latest data capture and remote sensing technologies into forest operations, part of the upcoming ForestTECH 2022 series running on 15-16 November 2022 in New Zealand and 22-23 November 2022 in Melbourne, Australia (after three years of Covid enforced meeting and travel restrictions) will be on recent advancements made in North and South America, Europe and Australia around mechanised planting systems.

Key presentations at ForestTECH 2022 will include;

1. Trial results and key lessons from 2022 commercial mechanised planting operations with pine and eucalypts in Australia

2. Results from 2022 trials using hydrogels at the time of planting to extend the planting season

3. Insights into how mechanised planting machines are being employed across steeper slopes in South America. After developing and improving the equipment in Brazilian conditions in eucalyptus forests, a fleet of mechanised planters are expected to be operational this year

4. How GPS planting spades being used commercially this year have performed5. New Scandinavian mechanised planting systems being used in Sweden and North America

Note: Programme and registration details and further information on both the NZ and Australian events can be found on the ForestTECH 2022 website.

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