A Low-Investment Option for the Integrated Semi-mechanized Harvesting of Small-Scale, Short-Rotation Poplar Plantations

Abstract

In recent years, industrial roundwood production has enjoyed a steady success due to the development of a new bioeconomy and the rapid structural changes of the wood market. A very promising new solution for industrial fiber crops is the integrated production of logs and biomass in short rotation poplar plantations. In Europe, the expansion of these crops is concentrated in the Eastern regions, where contractors face strict limitations in their capital availability: hence the interest in developing semi-mechanized, low-investment harvesting systems based on general-purpose equipment that may serve as a stop-gap solution to assist the transition to fully mechanized systems. This study focused on designing and testing such a system, based on two low-cost machines (an excavator with a grapple saw and a second-hand forwarder) and requiring a minimum workforce (two operators only). The system was tested for productivity, cost and work quality, under two variants: production of 2 or 4 m logs. This system can produce approximately 3 loads (90 t) per day, at a cost between 14.5 and 16 € t−1, from stump to roadside landing, ready for loading and transportation. The 4 m log variant was more efficient, resulting in a 10% cost reduction around 1.5 € t−1. However, log yield was relatively low: between 1/3 and 1/4 of the total harvest, the balance consisting of lower-value biomass. The 2 m log treatment offered a higher log yield. The introduction of simple technology may allow increasing log yield and should be the subject of future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Ackerman P, Belbo H, Eliasson L, de Jong A, Lazdins A, Lyons J (2014) The COST model for calculation of forest operations costs. Int J For Eng 25(1):75–81

    Google Scholar 

  2. Albizu PM, Tolosana-Esteban E, Roman-Jordan E (2013) Safety and health in forest harvesting operations. Diagnosis and preventive actions. A review. For Syst 22:392–400

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bell J (2002) Changes in logging injury rates associated with use of feller-bunchers in West Virginia. J Saf Res 33:436–471

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bembenek M, Mederski P, Karaszewski Z, Łacka A, Grzywiński W, Węgiel A, Giefing D, Erler J (2015) Length accuracy of logs from birch and aspen harvested in thinning operations. Turk J Agric For 39:845–850

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Biopoplar Srl (2019) Personal communication

  6. Björheden R, Apel K, Shiba M, Thompson MA (1995) IUFRO forest work study nomenclature. Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Garpenberg, p 16

    Google Scholar 

  7. Britt C (2000) Poplars: a multiple-use crop for European arable farmers. In: Poplar and willow culture: meeting the needs of society and the environment. GTR-NC-215, USDA Forest Service, St. Paul, Minnesota, p 24

  8. Cardias-Williams F, Thomas T (2006) Some key issues concerning current poplar production and future marketing in the United Kingdom. New For 31:343–359

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. CNP (2020) Peupliers de France—Le Portail de la Filière Peuplier (Poplars of France - the Portal of the Poplar Supply Chain). https://www.peupliersdefrance.org/n/le-peuplier-en-chiffres/n:1146. Accessed on 15 July 2020

  10. Dahlin B (1991) Cradle type multi-stem delimber. In: Monograph no. 185 in series Studia Forestalia Suecica. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala

  11. Di Fulvio F, Abbas D, Spinelli R, Acuna M, Ackerman P, Lindroos O (2017) Benchmarking technical and cost factors in forest felling and processing operations in different global regions during the period 2013–2014. Int J For Eng 28(2):94–105

    Google Scholar 

  12. Helby P, Rosenqvist H, Roos A (2006) Retreat from Salix—Swedish experience with energy crops in the 1990s. Biomass Bioenergy 30:422–427

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hetemäki L, Hurmekoski E (2016) Forest products markets under change: review and research implications. Curr For Rep 2:177–188

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hongyuan X (1992) The culture history and breeding strategy of poplar in Italy. J For Res 3:95–100

    Google Scholar 

  15. IPC (2016) International Poplar Commission—25th Session Berlin, Germany, 13–16 September 2016. Poplars and Other Fast-Growing Trees - Renewable Resources for Future Green Economies Synthesis: Synthesis of Country Progress Reports. Forestry Policy and Resources Division - Forestry Department - Working Paper IPC/15. FAO, Rome, Italy, p 120

  16. IPP (2019) Biomass plantations in Poland. Consulted on 03/03/2020. http://www.internationalpaper.com/company/regions/europe-middle-east-africa/sustainability/highlights/biomass-plantations-in-poland

  17. Kammenga J (1983) Whole-tree utilization system for thinning young Douglas-fir. J For 4:220–224

    Google Scholar 

  18. Klinhoff R (1970) S & L portable timber slasher. Technical release. American Pulpwood Association 1970 No. 70R-23, p 2

  19. Liepinš K, Lazdinš A, Liepinš J, Prindulis U (2015) Productivity and cost-effectiveness of mechanized and motor-manual harvesting of grey alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench.): a case study in Latvia. Small Scale For 14:493–506

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Lindegaard K, Adams P, Holley M, Lamley A, Henriksson A, Larsson S, Engelbrechten H, Lopez G, Pisarek M (2016) Short rotation plantations policy history in Europe: lessons from the past and recommendations for the future. Food Energ Secur 5(3):125–152

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Magagnotti N, Kanzian C, Schulmeyer F, Spinelli R (2011) A new guide for work studies in forestry. Int J For Eng 24:249–253

    Google Scholar 

  22. Manzone M, Balsari P, Spinelli R (2013) Small-scale storage techniques for fuel chips from short rotation forestry. Fuel 109:687–692

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Mihelič M, Spinelli R, Magagnotti N, Poje A (2015) Performance of a new industrial chipper for rural contractors. Biomass Bioenergy 83:152–158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Miyajima R, Fenner P, Batistela G, Simões D (2020) Technical-economic analysis of grapple saw: a stochastic approach. Croat J For Eng. https://doi.org/10.5552/crojfe.2020.681

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Mousavi-Mirkala SR, Nikooy M (2016) Evaluation of tree forwarding by farm tractor in patch cutting of poplar plantations in Northern Iran. Small Scale For 13:527–540

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Poje A, Potočnik I, Mihelič M (2018) Comparison of electric and petrol chainsaws in terms of efficiency and safety when used in young spruce stands in small-scale private forests. Small Scale For 17(3):411–422. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11842-018-9395-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Posavec S, Bećirović D, Petrović N, Pezdevšek Malovrh Š (2016) Possibilities to produce additional quantities of woody biomass from small-scale private forests in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Croat J For Eng 40(1):175–189

    Google Scholar 

  28. Proto AR, Macri G, Visser R, Harrill H, Russo D, Zimbalatti G (2018) A case study on the productivity of forwarder extraction in small-scale Southern Italian forests. Small Scale For 17:71–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Robb W, Cocking J (2014) Review of European chainsaw fatalities, accidents and trends. Arboricult J 36(2):103–126

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. SAS Institute Inc (1999) StatView reference. SAS Publishing, Cary, NC. ISBN-1-58025-162-5, pp 84–93

  31. Spinelli R, Hartsough B (2006) Harvesting SRF poplar for pulpwood: experience in the Pacific Northwest. Biomass Bioenergy 30:439–445

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Spinelli R, Visser R (2008) Analyzing and estimating delays in harvester operations. Int J For Eng 19:35–40

    Google Scholar 

  33. Spinelli R, Magagnotti N (2010) Comparison of two harvesting systems for the production of forest biomass from the thinning of Picea abies plantations. Scand J For Res 25(1):69–77

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Spinelli R, Schweier J, De Francesco F (2012) Harvesting techniques for non-industrial biomass plantations. Biosyst Eng 113:319–324

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Spinelli R, Magagnotti N, Picchi G (2011) Annual use, economic life and residual value of cut-to-length harvesting machines. J For Econ 17(4):378–387

    Google Scholar 

  36. Spinelli R, Magagnotti N, Lombardini C (2020) Low-investment fully-mechanized harvesting of short-rotation poplar (Populus spp.) plantations. Forests 11:502. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050502

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Stanton B, Eaton J, Johnson J, Rice D, Schuette B, Moser B (2002) Hybrid poplar in the Pacific Northwest: the effects of market-driven management. J For 100(6):28–33

    Google Scholar 

  38. Talagai N, Borz SA, Ignea G (2017) Performance of brush cutters in felling operations of willow short rotation coppice. BioResources 12(2):3560–3569

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Vanbeveren SP, Magagnotti N, Spinelli R (2017) Increasing the value recovery from short-rotation coppice harvesting. BioResources 12(1):696–703

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Werner C, Haas E, Grote R, Gauder M, Graeff-Honninger S, Claupein W, Butterbach-Bahl K (2012) Biomass production potential from populus short rotation systems in Romania. GCB Bioenergy 4:642–653

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Ye K, Wang J (2003) Processing and utilization of poplar wood from plantations. China Wood Ind 17:5–7 (Chinese, Engl. Summary)

    Google Scholar 

  42. Yu A, Gallagher T, Mitchell D, O’Neal B (2017) Application of a small-scale equipment system for biomass harvesting. Small Scale For 16:133–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This study was funded by the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No. 745874 «Dendromass for Europe» (D4EU).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

R.S. study conception and design, experimental planning, data collection, data analysis, paper writing; N.M. study conception and design, data collection, data analysis, paper writing; C.L. experimental planning, data collection, data analysis; M.M. data collection, data analysis, paper writing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Raffaele Spinelli.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Availability of data and materials

Data and materials can be requested from the corresponding Author at the address indicated.

Code availability

Not applicable.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Spinelli, R., Magagnotti, N., Lombardini, C. et al. A Low-Investment Option for the Integrated Semi-mechanized Harvesting of Small-Scale, Short-Rotation Poplar Plantations. Small-scale Forestry 20, 59–72 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11842-020-09456-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Logging
  • Felling
  • Productivity
  • Cost
  • Efficiency
  • Investment