Current issue: 53(4)
Under compilation: 54(1)
This study was aimed at determining the maximum cost level of artificial drying required for cost-efficient operation. This was done using a system analysis approach, in which the harvesting potential and procurement cost of alternative fuel chip production systems were compared at the stand and regional level. The accumulation and procurement cost of chipped delimbed stems from young forests were estimated within a 100 km transport distance from a hypothetical end use facility located in northern Finland. Logging and transportation costs, stumpage prices, tied up capital, dry matter losses and moisture content of harvested timber were considered in the study. Moisture content of artificially dried fuel chips made of fresh timber (55%) was set to 20%, 30% and 40% in the comparisons. Moisture content of fuel chips based on natural drying during storing was 40%. Transporting costs were calculated according to new higher permissible dimensions and weight limits for truck-trailers. The procurement cost calculations indicated that with artificial drying and by avoiding dry material losses of timber, it could be possible to reduce current costs of the prevailing procurement system based on natural drying of timber at roadside landings. The maximum cost level of artificial drying ranged between 1.2–3.2 € MWh–1 depending on the supply chain, moisture content and procurement volume of fuel chips. This cost margin corresponds to, e.g., organization, forwarding and transportation costs or stumpage price of delimbed stems.
Downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) stands on drained peatlands are often considered useless because they typically do not yield good-quality sawn timber. However, covering an area of ca. 0.5 million hectares and with total yields of up to 250 m3 ha–1, downy birch stands on peatlands in Finland have a potential for pulpwood and/or energy wood production. We examined the financial performance of alternative management regimes (with or without thinnings, different thinning intensities, several rotation lengths) combined with alternative harvesting methods (pulpwood, energy wood, or integrated, energy wood being delimbed stems or whole trees). We used data from 19 experimental stands, monitored for 20–30 years. For harvesting removals we considered both actual thinning removals and final-cutting removals with alternative timings that were based on the monitoring data. We assessed the profitability as a combination of the net present value of the birch generation and the bare land value of future generations of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). The most profitable management was growing without thinnings until whole-tree final cutting at the stand age of 40–45 years with an advanced multi-tree harvesting method. In contrast, the standard method in whole-tree final cutting resulted in the lowest profitability, and an integrated method with the energy wood as delimbed stems was the best of the standard methods. Thinnings were unprofitable especially when aiming to produce energy wood, whereas aiming for pulpwood, light precommercial thinning was competitive. Commercial thinning at the traditional “pulpwood stage” had little effect on profitability. The best stand age for final cutting was 40–65 years – earlier for very dense stands and whole-tree energy wood harvesting with advanced method, later for precommercially thinned stands and pulpwood harvesting.
The long-term effects of fertilization on the needle nutrient concentrations, growth and financial performance of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand was examined in a thick-peated drained peatland forest located in Central Finland. At the trial establishment in 1985, the trees were suffering from P and K deficiencies, but their N status was good. The fertilizer treatments were Control, PK (rock phosphate + potassium chloride), ApaBio (apatite phosphorus + biotite) and wood ash, applied both with and without N and replicated six times. All treatments containing phosphorus and potassium increased foliar P and K concentrations above the deficiency limits up to the end of the study period of 26 years. The effect of the fertilization on stand volume growth of Scots pine was strong and continued still at the end of the study period. The trees on ApaBio and PK plots grew nearly two-fold and those on Ash plots over two-fold compared with the control plots. In a thinning made at the end of the study period the total logging removal on fertilized plots was 1.5–2.2 times greater and included more saw logs than on the control plots. Ash fertilizer treatment outperformed other fertilizer treatments as well as the control. With a 5% discounted equivalent annual income (EAI) of Ash fertilizer treatment was statistically significantly (p=0.009) almost three times higher than that of control. As a conclusion, fertilization (either using PK fertilizers or Ash) in N-rich drained peatlands is a financially feasible method of management.