A comparison between excavator-based harvester productivity in coppiced and planted Eucalyptus grandis compartments in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
AbstractDue to the labour challenges in South Africa, mechanised forestry equipment has increasingly been required to operate in complex forest conditions – such as coppiced Eucalyptus compartments – where they have not operated before. For this reason, harvesters are either used in certain coppiced compartments with uncertain productivity expectations, or harvesters are not used in these compartments due to a lack of productivity knowledge. This research aimed to determine the influence of tree volume and tree form on the productivity of an excavator-based harvester in coppiced regrowth – with either double or single stems, or planted single stems – in Eucalyptus grandis pulpwood compartments. In addition, the stem felled first and the distance between stems were investigated for coppiced double stems. The stem felled first is whichever stem between the two coppiced double stems the harvester grabbed, felled and processed first. The tree volume was determined; thereafter the trees were classified into different form classes. The tree volume and the cycle time were used to determine productivity. The research results showed that planted trees had the highest productivity across all tree sizes, followed by coppiced single stems and then coppiced double stems. When harvesting a 0.2 m3 tree, the mean harvester productivity was 8.7 m3 per productive machine hour (PMH0) in coppiced double stems, 13.8 m3 per PMH0 in coppiced single stems and 16.1 m3 per PMH0 in planted trees. In coppiced double stems the productivity was significantly influenced by the size of the stem felled first. In coppiced double stems the productivity was not significantly influenced by the distance between stems. The productivity for both coppiced single stems and coppiced double stems was significantly influenced by stem form. The poorly formed trees had lower productivity compared to the trees with good form.
Keywords: coppiced double stem felled first, coppiced stems, harvester, planted trees, productivity, tree/stem form, tree volume
Southern Forests 2013, 75(4): 239–246