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September/October 2021 | Muedanyi Ramantswana

Evolving with technology – Silviculture Webinar



The Nelson Mandela University Forestry Department Hosted a Webinar on the 20th of October 2021 under the theme “Evolving with Technology”. The webinar was aimed at sharing progress and efforts in modernizing silviculture operations both locally and internationally. The webinar was attended by over 250 attendees (professionals and students) from different countries across the world with majority coming from South Africa. Four and three presentations were delivered by experts in various fields of silviculture technology in South Africa and Other countries (Sweden, Uruguay and Brazil) respectively. A summary of all the presentations is given below.

Integrating technologies from nursery to field
Mr Heinz Reinstorf from BCC described nursery practices in Sweden, Finland, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Russia. He further linked the practices to packing line methods and as well as plant transport, infield handling and planting. The presentation also showed how the gap between nurseries and mechanised planting is being bridged through various developments in nurseries.

Mulching of harvest residue after clear-felling in Eucalyptus and Pine stands
Mr Leeshan Mahadeo who is currently a master’s student at the University of Stellenbosch presented the findings of his research which aimed at quantifying the productivity rates, CO2 emissions, and costs between eucalyptus and pine plantations. In addition, the research also analysed the influence that residue management has on pitting and planting productivities. The research found that mulching combined with mechanised pitting and semi-mechanised planting yielded the highest productivity.

Ergonomic interventions to achieve Modernized Silviculture
Ms Nonkululeko Ntinga from Mondi described ergonomics, ergonomic risk factors as well as ergonomic interventions applied to reduce risks. She explained how continuous improved through modernisation had been used in silviculture to improve activities such as pitting and planting over time. In conclusion she outlined some of the benefits of applying ergonomics such as (i) a reduction in work-related musculoskeletal disorders and safety risks (ii) increase in quality of work and productivity.

Evolution of planting operations
Mr Lwandile Mbono from Mondi presented on how planting operations had evolved over time to where they are now. He compared the applications and productivities of two tractor-towed planting technologies, namely the Vastrap and Wasserplanzer. In summary he described the key areas of learning as being in operational planning, ergonomic improvements, consistent quality and productivity improvements.

Mechanized Tree Planting – status in Sweden
Dr Tomas Ersson from SLU gave an overview of the Swedish regeneration activities and planting technology history. He described the findings from trials of the lasted planting machine called the PlantmaX. He also described other areas of technology development such as seedling packaging, the improvement crane-mounted planting devices and mechanized tree planting projects which were initiated in Sweden in 2021.

UAV technology in Forestry
Mr Santiago Ferrando gave a Uruguayan experience of using UAV technology. He gave guidelines on how to select the correct UAV as the numerous brands in the market. In summary he described some of the keys to a successful forestry drone operation such as (i) focus on difficult terrain which is not easily accessible (ii) use human resources that are interested in using the technology (iii) doing trials and tests with clear objectives and to identify chemicals which are compatible with the drones. He indicated that drone technology is still new and requires continual adaptation.

Status of silviculture mechanization in Brazil
Prof Saulo Guerra presented the results from a newly released Silviculture Mechanization Survey. The survey gave findings about various resources (tools, equipment and implements) and quantified the level of mechanization (manual, semi mechanized, mechanized and automated) in soil preparation, planting and irrigation in 2020 and compared the findings to the survey conducted in 2018.

Next year's event is scheduled for Wednesday 19 of October 2022

For more information and copies of the presentations delivered visit: Mandela University - George campus 

For more information about the event and to contribute please contact the facilitator  Dr Ramantswana at