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Theoretical Stability and Traction of Steep Slope Tethered Feller-Bunchers

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Manual felling in afforested land is a productivity constraint and, more importantly, a safety concern. This has prompted the development of innovative mechanized harvesting systems to overcome the constraint, particularly on steeper slopes. The primary technique that has been developed and employed consists of cable-assisted, or “tethered,” feller-bunchers, which use tension in a wire rope anchored upslope to assist with traction and gradeability. However, despite their deployment internationally, there is little quantitative framework with which to evaluate the relationship between tether tension, stability, ground pressures, and slip, especially in the context of machine specifications and site operative conditions. This study presents a theoretical framework that uses a moment equilibrium approach to evaluate the relationship between equipment dimensions and specifications and soil and site conditions to identify allowable slopes of operation and associated ground pressures. This quantitative framework highlights the facts that deeper grousers, higher cable tensions, wider tracks, and uphill boom orientation all increase gradeability and stability during operation. Inversely, effective track length (hence, increased soil pressures) and stability are decreased from grappling of heavier trees, operation on weaker soils, fully extended boom operation in the downhill direction, and increasing slope. Increasing soil pressure, increasing slope, and decreasing stability may increase soil disturbance but needs to be corroborated with future, planned field tests.
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Keywords: cable assist; soil impacts; stability; steep slope harvest; tethered assist

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2017-04-02

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    Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
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