Harvesting and transport of root biomass from fast-growing poplar plantations
Recovery of tree root biomass can be attractive, since the stump-root system represents a substantial portion of the tree mass and its removal may prove instrumental to re-cultivation. Most available studies concern Nordic technologies, particularly suited to mature conifer stands. Unlike spruce, plantation poplar develops a deep taproot, whose extraction requires completely different methods. The aim of the study was to investigate poplar root recovery operations in plantations with time studies, and to determine the productivity and delivery costs of the operations. Seven operation systems developed to work with poplar plantations in Italian conditions were studied. Extraction and cleaning units were based on general-purpose prime movers. Under favourable conditions extraction and cleaning units achieved a very high productivity: 150 stumps per hour for the extraction unit and 170 for the cleaning unit. Delivered cost varied widely, ranging from 28 to 66 Euros Mg–1. Transportation was the most expensive single work task. It accounted for about 40% of the total recovery cost. Extraction and cleaning contributed approximately 25% each to the total cost, and loading 9%. Guidelines to recovery system improvement and efficient operation are provided.
Received 21 May 2004 Accepted 14 October 2005 Published 31 December 2005