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Mechanised planting on steeper slopes

5 December 2022

As part of the just completed ForestTECH 2022 series, advances being made operationally in mechanised planting along with recent commercial trials from across Australasia, Europe and in South America featured as part of the focus this year’s event had on innovations around forest establishment. Economics, health and safety, shortages of manual planters over the planting season and the ability to build in a number of operations around planting into just the one mechanised operation were discussed at length by the forestry industry, key technology suppliers and equipment manufacturers.

Cassio Gomes, Forestry Innovation & Operational Development with the Brazilan forestry company, Eldorado Brasil Celulose presented at both the New Zealand and Australian events on their experience using mechanised planters for Eucalyptus. As part of the presentation with Bracke, most of the development around mechanised planting has been a collaborative effort between another major Brazilian forest owner, Cenibra (part of Oji Holdings) that own 144,000ha eucalypts and Bracke Forest, a Swedish forestry equipment manufacturer.

Operational trials with mechanised planting started in 2017. The forest company separates their planting programme into two distinct slope classes. On the flatter terrain, slopes up to 17 degrees, planting is semi-mechanised with agricultural tractors being used along with manual planters involved in seedling irrigation and side fertilisation. It’s on the steeper slopes (18 to 35 degrees) that mechanised planting using excavators (now using 20 tonne machines) and Bracke planting heads have really developed.

With the very latest modifications to the planting heads the machines are able to position using GPS guidance for planting, are subsoiling or ripping, deep fertilising, planting, side fertilising and irrigating, all in the one operation. To reduce costs and operational efficiencies, they’re currently employing a model where a team of five mechanised planters are working in tandem, serviced by truck to transport tools and equipment, a support vehicle for a mechanic and parts and tanker unit carrying water for irrigation to top up the five planters.

For more information on the developments, you can find below the recent presentation on mechanised planting on steep slopes given as part of ForestTECH 2022.

ForestTECH 2022 delegates have now been sent out all of the presentations including; results from mechanised planting trials this year from NSW, insights into the technology and costings around a large planting programme by CMPC in Chile, results from the application of hydrogels to extend the planting season and commercial trials using GPS planting spades from Queensland this planting season, given as part of the recent series.

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