Cost and productivity of harvesting. High value hibrid poplar plantations in Italy
Spinelli, R.; Magagnottini, N.; Sperandio, G.; Cielo, P.; Verani, S.; Zanuttini, R.
Forest Products Journal
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MADISON, WI 53705-2295
FOREST PRODUCTS SOC
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|Abstract in English:|
As the importance of hybrid poplar plantations continues to increase, these stands may soon represent a strategic source of wood products for many temperate-region countries. Financial success from growing these plantations depends on obtaining the highest value recovery at the lowest harvest cost, which has motivated a gradual shift toward mechanized harvesting. This study compared the harvesting efficiency and cost of different harvesting procedures based on manual, semimechanized, and mechanized system configurations. Overall, 25 sites were sampled with time studies. Average site size varied between 0.3 and 2.5 hectares. Total observation time amounted to 787 hours, during which 6,449 trees were harvested. Mechanized harvesting proved significantly faster and cheaper than traditional manual harvesting, allowing an average saving of about 3 €/m3 for the same tree size. Hence, mechanization may help maintain profitability when harvesting smaller trees, allowing companies to cope with current trends toward shorter rotations for increased cash flow. Semimechanized harvesting did not involve fewer work steps, nor was it less expensive than traditional manual harvesting; its only benefit was a substantial reduction of labor requirements. The concern about reduced value recovery is still the main obstacle to the extensive application of mechanized poplar harvesting.