Labelle Eric R., PhD. Candidate

Quantifying the Use of Brush Mats in Reducing Forwarder Peak Loads and Surface Contact Pressures

volume: 33, issue: 2

Assessing the Ability of Hardwood and Softwood Brush Mats to Distribute Applied Loads

volume: 36, issue: 2

Effect of Tree Form on the Productivity of a Cut-to-Length Harvester in a Hardwood Dominated Stand

volume: 37, issue: 1

Comparison of Sampling Methods Used to Evaluate Forest Soil Bulk Density

volume: 39, issue: 2

The objective of this study was to compare forest soil bulk density values obtained through
conventional sampling methods such as the volumetric ring (VR: diameter 5 cm, length 10 cm)
and paraffin sealed clod (PSC), with a variation of the VR, where rectangular boxes (RB) of
four different dimensions were used. Sampling transects were established on a machine operating
trail located in a beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) stand in Northern Iran. At each
transect, three soil samples were collected at three different locations. Samples from different
methods were spaced by a 50 cm distance to avoid direct interactions. The soil class of our
study area was Combisols according to the WRB classification with a clay texture. Soil bulk
density differed significantly between the three sampling methods. The lowest values were
obtained with the RB (average 1.25 g cm-3), followed by the VR (average 1.40 g cm-3), and
lastly the PSC (average 1.52 g cm-3). The values obtained with four variations of the RB
method ranged from 1.22 to 1.28 g cm-3 and were not found significantly different. When soil
bulk density was calculated after the removal of the weight and volume of roots included in
the samples, the values were determined to be higher than before but with the same range of
magnitude. The lowest coefficient of variation was found for RB4 (CV=2.3%), while the highest
values were observed for VR and RB1 (CV=5.7%).

Effects of Steel Flexible Tracks on Forwarder Peak Load Distribution: Results from a Prototype Load Test Platform

volume: 40, issue: 1

Steel flexible tracks (SFT) are regularly installed on bogie axles of forwarders to improve traction
and extend trafficability by increasing the contact area between machines and operating surface.
The study quantified dynamic peak loads exerted by a forwarder driving either on wheels or
using additional SFT on its rear bogie axle. To examine load distribution of a full-scale forwarder,
a load test platform was designed and constructed. Three scenarios were tested with the
forwarder unloaded and loaded to quantify load distribution between wheels driven directly over
the steel load test platform (Scenario 1) and SFT when either driven directly over the steel load
test platform (Scenario 2) or when driven over a 20 cm layer of sand placed over the platform
(Scenario 3). The platform proved to be an appropriate measuring device for full-scale tests.
Results indicate that, when operated on the sand layer, SFT (installed on the forwarder’s rear
unloaded axle) decreased dynamic peak loads by about 30% compared to wheels. The use of SFT
on bogie axles of forest machines is recommended to lower soil disturbances, especially through
a reduction of peak loads often responsible for negatively altering soil physical properties.

Selected Environmental Impacts of Forest Harvesting Operations with Varying Degree of Mechanization

volume: 40, issue:

Climate change affects forest ecosystems, impacting timber production and eco-services. Conversely, sustainable forest management has been identified as a means to help mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas and contributor to climate change, while also maximizing multiuse benefits through close-to-nature silviculture. In this study, a life cycle assessment was performed on forest harvesting operations at three research sites to provide real-world understanding of the selected environmental impacts associated with harvesting systems typical of Germany: motor-manual (chainsaw and forest tractor), semi-mechanized (single-grip harvester, chainsaw, and forwarder), and fully-mechanized (single-grip harvester and forwarder). Environmental impact categories assessed included greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter emissions, and non-renewable energy consumption. Results from the three research sites were estimated on a machine basis. The semi-mechanized system resulted in the lowest environmental impact, the majority of which was attributed to felling and processing operations. Next, the environmental impacts were estimated for a complete rotation period and compared amongst the different harvesting systems. According to results, semi-mechanized harvesting systems had the lowest impact over the full rotation period as well as for thinning treatments when compared to motor-manual and fully-mechanized systems. The fully-mechanized system performed the best for final felling treatments. Considering variability between the research sites as well as the system boundary assessed, a diversified approach to harvesting operations may be considered, integrating semi-mechanized and fully-mechanized systems for different treatments throughout the rotation period.

Evaluation of Different Best Management Practices for Erosion Control on Machine Operating Trails

volume: 40, issue:

Ground-based mechanized forest operations often lead to increased runoff and soil loss on unbound forest roads and machine operating trails, which in turn can impede the technical trafficability of machines and cause negative impacts on the environment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of three Best Management Practice (BMP) treatments used to control erosion occurring on machine operating trails. The treatments included water bar, water bar and hardwood brush (H-brush), and water bar and softwood brush (S-brush). For a more comprehensive assessment of both brush treatments, two levels of brush thickness were tested; 0.5 m and 1.0 m. Results indicate that the most effective BMP treatments were the water bar and softwood brush followed by the water bar and hardwood brush and finally the least effective was the water bar. The average runoff rates and soil loss from the machine operating trails with the water bar treatment (52.64 l per plot, 8.49 g m-2) were higher than runoff and soil loss at the trails protected with hardwood brush (23.75 l per plot, 4.5 g m-2), and the trails protected by the hardwood brush had higher runoff and soil loss compared to trails covered by softwood brush (15.83 l per plot, 2.98 g m-2). Furthermore, results of this study showed that regardless of the treatment, the amount of runoff and soil loss decreased consistently as the thickness of the brush mat increased. Overall, erosion control techniques similar to either H-brush or S-brush that provide direct soil coverage should be used for erosion control, and final selection should be based on costs, availability of material, or landowner objectives.

Recovery of Forest Soil Chemical Properties Following Soil Rehabilitation Treatments: an Assessment Six Years after Machine Impact

volume: 41, issue: 1

Several rehabilitation treatments have been applied to mitigate runoff and sediment in machine trafficked areas following logging operations, while the knowledge on the consequence of these remediation techniques on the recovery of soil properties remains scarce. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of different rehabilitation treatments including sawdust mulch (SM), water diversion structure (WDS), untreated/bare trail (U), and undisturbed or control area (UND) on the recovery of soil chemical properties over a six-year period after machine-induced compaction occurred on three longitudinal trail gradients (10, 20, and 30 %).In each treatment, the following soil properties were measured: litter thickness, pH, EC, soil organic C, total N, and available P, K, Ca, and Mg. Five sampling plots (with 10 m length and 4 m width) were positioned in each trail gradient classes and three of these plots were randomly considered for soil sampling.The results demonstrate that litter thickness differed among the three treatments, with the highest amount present on the UND area and lowest on the U treatment. Meanwhile, the highest pH (6.75), EC (0.21 Ds m−1), N (0.27 %), available P (14.61 mg kg−1), available K (123.5 mg kg−1), available Ca (135.1 mg kg−1), and available Mg (42.1 mg kg−1) and the lowest C (1.21 %) and C/N ratio (7.83 %) were found on the SM with gradient of 10 % compared to other gradient classes on SM, WDS and, U treatments. The recovery value of litter depth, pH, EC, C, N, C/N ratio, and available nutrients (P, K, Ca, and Mg) were higher on the SM than the WDS at the gradient of 10 %, while significantly higher levels of these variables were measured under WDS installed on trail gradients of 30 % and 20 % when compared with the same gradients on SM. Results of the study revealed that soil chemical properties showed some evidence of recovery following SM and WDS rehabilitation treatments compared to U, although these properties did not fully recover within 6 years as compared to UND area

The Effect of New Silvicultural Trends on Mental Workload of Harvester Operators

volume: 41, issue:

Close-to-nature (CTN) forestry offers many advantages, but makes management more complex and generally results in lower harvesting productivity and higher harvesting cost. While the higher harvesting cost of CTN is widely acknowledged, few ever consider the potential impact on operator workload, as the harvesting task becomes more complex. This study aimed to determine the mental workload of harvester operators under two silvicultural regimes: »pure conifer« stand and »mixwood« stand. In total, 13 harvester operators with varying experience levels were monitored for work performance and mental workload when operating a harvester simulator in two virtual stands designed according to the above-mentioned silvicultural regimes. Mental workload was assessed using the NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) interview method and heart rate variability measurements, during two 30-minute test sessions performed in the »pure conifer« and the »mixwood« stand, respectively. As expected, operating in a more diversified »mixwood« stand resulted in a marked productivity loss, estimated between 40 and 57%. The study also confirmed the increased aggravation of mental demand, effort and frustration experienced by the operators when passing from the »pure conifer« stand to the »mixwood« stand. Such increase in mental workload was independent of the age and experience of the operators. Results can be used to paint a more holistic picture of CTN forestry and its implications for harvester operators. Besides increasing the number of subjects being monitored, future studies should focus on live forest operations.

Influence of Saturated Organic Matter on the Accuracy of In-Situ Measurements Recorded with a Nuclear Moisture and Density Gauge

volume: 42, issue:

The impact of machines on forest soils is regularly assessed and quantified using absolute bulk density, which is most frequently obtained by soil cores. However, to allow for repeated measurements at the exact same locations, non-destructive devices are increasingly being used to determine soil bulk density and moisture content in field studies. An example of such a device is a nuclear moisture and density gauge (NMDG), originally designed as a control measurement for soil bulk density and moisture content in geotechnical applications. Unlike road construction or foundation projects that use mineral soil or gravel, forest soils have complex structures and the presence of organic matter, which can skew moisture and density readings from a NMDG. To gain further knowledge in this respect, we performed controlled tests in a sandbox to quantify the influence of varying amounts of saturated organic matter (3, 5, 10, and 15%) mixed with mineral soil in different layers (0–5, 0–10, 0–20 and 0–40 cm) on the accuracy of soil moisture content obtained by a NMDG and soil theta probe at varying depths. Main results illustrated that the presence of saturated organic matter per se was not problematic but moisture content overestimations and related underestimation of dry bulk density occurred when the tested measurement depth was below the created organic layer. Since forest soils often exhibit higher organic matter contents in the upper horizon, correction factors are suggested to minimize the moisture content variations between NMDG and reference method. With the use of correction factors, NMDG can present a non-destructive, fast, and accurate method of measuring soil moisture and bulk density in forestry applications.

The Effect of Yarding Technique on Yarding Productivity and Cost: Conventional Single-Hitch Suspension vs. Horizontal Double-Hitch Suspension

volume: 42, issue:

Cable yarding is a well establish technology for the extraction of timber in steep terrain. However, it is encumbered with relatively low productivity and high costs, and as such this technology needs to adapt and progress to remain viable. The development of biomass as a valuable byproduct, and the availability of processors to support yarder operations, lend themselves to increasing the level of whole-tree extraction. Double-hitch carriages have been developed to allow for full suspension of whole-tree and tree-length material. This study compared a standard single-hitch to a double-hitch carriage under controlled conditions, namely in the same location using the same yarder with downhill extraction. As expected, the double-hitch carriage took longer to load up (+14%), but was able to achieve similar productivity (10–11 m3 per productive machine hour) through increased inhaul speed (+15%). The importance of this study is that it demonstrates both the physical and economic feasibility of moving to whole-tree extraction using the double-hitch type carriage for longer corridors, for settings with limited deflection, or areas with lower tolerance for soil disturbance.

Business Process Reengineering of a Large-Scale Public Forest Enterprise Through Harvester Data Integration

volume: 43, issue:

Despite the extensive use of cut-to-length mechanized systems, harvester data remains largely underutilized by most stakeholders in Germany. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine how business processes should be restructured to allow for a continuous use of forest machine data, with the main focus on harvester production data, along the German wood supply chain. We also wanted to identify possible benefits and challenges of the restructuring through a qualitative analysis of the newly designed business process. The Bavarian State Forest Enterprise was chosen for a case study approach. Based on expert interviews, the current and to-be processes were modeled. Results obtained from the qualitative data indicated that an integration of harvester data is achievable in Germany. Harvester data from forest operations can be provided to all subsequent activities along the supply chain. Core changes were the addition of a digital work order, the data exchange between harvester and forwarder, the pile order and the exchange of production data. Benefits for every stakeholder were determined. Through the reengineered process, harvesting and timber information are available and known at an earlier stage of the process, throughput information stations could be eliminated and working comfort could be improved. Ecological benefits could also be achieved through an anticipated reduction of CO2 emissions and protection of sensitive nature areas. Negative consequences of harvester data integration could appear in the social sphere and were in line with the reduction of personal contact. Challenges for the implementation in reality, besides the legal situation, could be the availability of on-board computers in forwarders, cost for new IT applications, willingness of stakeholders to cooperate and availability of internet access. Further research should be focused on the combination of harvester data with other data types and the practical implementation of the TB process.


Web of Science Impact factor (2022): 3.200
Five-years impact factor: 3.000

Quartile: Q1 - Forestry

Subject area

Agricultural and Biological Sciences