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Usewood Forest Machines in the Estonian Woods

TIIT KOSENKRANIUS

Forest owner, Adviser

Logging takes place in cooperation with machine builders, who, according to the recommendations of practitioners upgrade their machines.

I saw the Usewood forestry tractors for the first time in Finnmetko forestry exhibition in Finland in 2012. I liked that the brushcutter had wheels and there was cabin attached. This way the worker does not need to rumble inside the trash while doing the cleaning, instead he can sit while moving along the forest. What made it more interesting was the fact that in the past I’ve been interested and trying my hand in building and usage of small forest and agricultural machinery. Together with an experienced machine man Tõnu Tiivel we visited Finland several times to meet up with Usewoodi County builders and creators (family Usenius) and to observe forestry work that had been done already. It should be noted here that the machine name is a combination of Usewood builders’ family name and the area of use of the machinery. Interaction with the machine builder Jussi-Pekka Usenius greatly simplifies Tõnu Tiivel’s good Finnish language, especially in forestry vocabulary skills.

Harvester and forwarder

Usewood forest machine can be used for thinning and cleaning, and also to clean power line bases and the shores of the ditch from thin brush. For this, it is possible to install bush disk on the top of lift mast. Harvester is for cutting slightly thicker trees (6-23cm). Usenius have also experimented with hydraulic blade (guillotine), but we decided to use the traditional chainsaw cutting head in Estonian circumstances. We think this is more universal solution, because using bush blade or guillotine for cleaning with a Usewood type of machine would be more expensive than the work of men using bush saw. It happened so that we became the first testers of Usewood’s harvester with electronic control system. Machine arrive to us in July 2015. The agreement with machine builder was that we will work out technology suitable to working in Estonian context and also to give feedback of its technical performance. In collaboration, there has been made several improvements in terms of technical betterments and user friendliness. By now we have worked with Usewood harversters in the forests of Pärnu County more than a year. Working with the machine has revealed that there is a need for machine that would gather the material. To find that we studied different forwarders offered in the market. The fact that Usenius had an interest to build a small forwarder in addition to harvester, we found that it would be best solution to order this machine from them as well. It is easier and cheaper to operate and maintain machines that are technically similar in structure and from the same company. In addition to harvester, joint efforts of Estonia and Finland has resulted in the use of Usewood pilot forwarder model in the Estonian forests. The suggestions and proposals of experienced forwarder operator Rene Verlin that will come up while working with the forwarder are highly appreciated by machine builders, who have already implemented his recommendations in improvement of the machine.

Usewoord forest machines are equipped with modern computer programs: the whole working process is controlled by computer. To our knowledge, such a control system is not used by any other small machines. Harvester measures the length and thickness of timber, also measures the volume of sawn timber with a precision of cubic meters. Forwarder maneuverability is improved by the independently controlled rear axle, which allows the front and rear wheels of the single-track movement.  Closed cabin with heating and cooling system makes the machine operator job more comfortable. Also, with a timer, it is possible to schedule the engine warmup for when the working day starts. Due to low running cost, the first thinning in young forest with small harvesters cannot be compared with big machines. It is also not possible to compare the work. Also, one-to-one comparison with loggers cutting work is not possible. Easies and fastest way to collect sawn material with a small forwarder is to drive along the ridden trail made by small harvester. It is possible to bring out such small timber out of the forest that is left behind by the loggers or stamped into carrier roads by larger machines. Since these machines have a width of only 1.5 m and weight of only 2 tons, there is no need to cut 4 meters wide trails in young stands. Machines are able to move freely between the trees with a normal crop density. This in turn will result in nearly a fifth of the forest soil to grow trees, and the number of trees per hectare is higher than when cutting in trails. Small size and weight of the machine does not create big and muddy tracks in the forest. In addition to all, it is cheap and easy to transport the machines on the working spot, as only a trailer suitable for cars is enough for transportation of the machines.

There is future indeed

Author of the article is part of the work to solve the forestry organization: monitoring site selection and the principles of siviculture are complied. So far, we have made the first thinning of young forests in the forests belonging to members of forest association MTÜ Ühinenud Metsaomanikud. In the case of thin thinning there is no hope for a significant timber sales revenues for the owner of forest. Thinning result is mainly pulpwood, firewood, woodchip and slightly small logs, and the money coming for the sale will go mainly to cover labor costs. Doing thinning and cleaning in the forest is more of a silviculture character. The ultimate goal is to achieve a situation where the following logging will result in significantly better material than natural, previously mismanaged forest stand. It is good if cleaning has been previously done in the forest where Usewood harvester will be used for thinning. For this work we have advised our forest owning forest association members to use European Union subsidy in young forest maintenance. Forest association offers assistance in applying this grant. With the help of MTÜ ÜM we have organized a lot of public training days to introduce the need and principles of small machines. Also, to alleviate the scepticism in people that only large and heavy forest machinery is the only right way to go and that small machine is just a toy. Interest in such training days has been beeg and this direction is planned to continue. In conclusion it can be said that there is future for Usewood compact technology, because when looking around in Estonia there can be seen many such young and mismanaged forests where it can be used to improve the quality of forests.