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Chipping Whole Trees for Fuel Chips: A Production Study

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Abstract:

A time and motion study was conducted to determine the productivity and cost of an in-woods chipping operation when processing whole small-diameter trees for biomass. The study removed biomass from two overstocked stands and compared the cost of this treatment to existing alternatives. The treatment stands consisted of a 30-year-old longleaf pine stand and a 37-year-old loblolly pine stand. In the longleaf pine stand, 71% of the trees removed were less than 5 in. dbh. In the loblolly pine stand, approximately 81% of the stems removed were less than 5 in. dbh. The harvesting system consisted of conventional ground-based harvesting equipment and a three-knife chipper that processed the biomass into fuel chips. The average production time to fill a chip van was 24.61 minutes. The chip moisture content averaged 94.11% (dry basis). Using machine rates and federal labor wage rates, the in-woods cost of producing fuel chips was $9.18/green ton (gt). The cost of the biomass chipping operation ($15.18/gt), including transportation, compared favorably to existing alternative treatments of cut-and-pile or mulching.

Keywords: biomass; harvesting; hog fuel; production

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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