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March/April 2022 | Henny Zitha

ForestTech 2022 conference

Technology

General

Introduction
Annually, ForestTech holds its two-day conference where speakers are invited to present about various technologies in both silviculture and harvesting. This year, the focus of the conference was on new silvicultural technologies that are of interest around the world. Forsilvitech was attending this event which took place on the 23 – 24 February 2022 virtually. On the second day the speakers touched on packaging materials, Drones, sampling tools, planting and digital technologies that are used in silviculture operations. Forsilvitech aims to summarise the technologies that were discussed in the event.

Packaging Material
Stora Enso is a packaging company that makes its products from renewable and recyclable wood products. It deals with making corrugated cardboard boxes which so far are used in the Nordic to package seedlings such as Scots Pine and Spruce. Stora Enso partnered with BCC to make an automated machine which will pack and dispatch the cardboard boxes – an automated plant packer solution for tree nurseries. This system is operational in Sweden and can be provided globally however it is not suited for bare rooted systems. Stora Enso developed the Eco-RFID a packaging tracking system used to track all the goods that they produce but it was sold to CCRR last year. Their idea of the digital world of innovation is to have a centralised data base which will contain all the data collected from harvesting, silviculture, the inventory, nurseries and anywhere were they have operations moving from manual to digitalised operations. This data will be updated and then sent to different platforms in digital reports, this is done for data analysis and future improvements. The vision and strategy of precision forestry is to be 100% digital data collector.

Drone technologies
Information from Agdrone was presented and it showed how drones can be effectively used to minimize spray drift in environmentally sensitive areas. Agdrone has so far four DJI drones with ITK technology which helps when mapping an area to be sprayed. When mapping an area to be sprayed precision mapping is used to minimize damage to the areas surrounding the targeted area. The drones excel in areas limited by mature trees, and they can spray 5m away from the trees without damaging them. After a series of trials done by Agdrone to obtain the best results it is recommended to use a 0.3 or 0.4 spraying nozzle, the drone should be flown at 3 – 10 km/hr and it should be 3 to 5 m above the ground. The spraying angle should be 1100 with a wind speed of 1-8 km/hr. Agdrone plans to have software which will recognize different plants to improve the spraying precison and give them the ability to send actual tracks of each job to the clients

Sampling tool technologies
An interesting invention was presented by DeLeaves. The invention is a sampling tool that can be suspended by a drone to collect samples from the canopy of a tree. After being tested in different forest regions such as Vietnam, Hawaii and the US west coast, DeLeaves has proved to be effective on a large variety of tree species. This tool can collect branch samples with a maximum diameter of 20mm and a weight of 1kg. Apart from taking tree samples, DeLeaves has successfully been used to extract Brown tail moth nests in Maine in 2021.This tool is fully automated thus requires minimum training to be operated and it is easy to use. For a first-person view during use, the tool is equipped with a full HD camera and a digital video transmission. DeLeaves is confident that there is significant gain in efficiency range and safety when areal robotics are used in canopy sampling.

Planting technologies
With the underlying challenges in the forestry industry, the M-Planter have proved to be an efficient and productive machine in New Zealand regeneration. A 20-tonne excavator-based machine equipped with Risutec planting head was reviewed in New Zealand regeneration operations. The machine was selected based on its robustness, less moving parts, ability to move slash and its cultivation technique. The machine trials gave a good perspective in terms of productivity, cultivation types and tree holding capacity. It was trialled on flat terrain with slash and results showed that productivity was low during the start of the trial with 600 trees planted daily, lower than manual planting which was 800 trees per day. However, productivity increased substantially towards the end of the planting season with 1400 trees planted daily. This trial took place during the planting season of 2020 to 2021 planting season and about 90 to 100 ha were planted. In Kiangoroa the planting head was equipped with a system that could apply hydrogel during planting which worked well.

Digital technologies
FPT (Forest Pro Technologies) presented information on manual planting with a spade handle that is equipped with a system that can track and record the location of the planted trees with their genetic titles made possible by GPS systems. During planting there will be an automatic upload of data collected daily to the Forest Pro database which will be accessible online after it has been imported to the forest manager. Results from trial indicated that the spade data is reasonably precise and could be corrected to increase accuracy

Summary
It has been outlined through the presentations that technology in silviculture is growing and as it is tested and reviewed it is improved. The forest is the foundation for Stora Enso as a result they make packaging boxes by using recyclable and renewable materials replacing fossil-based materials. When it comes to spraying weeds, precision has been made possible by Agdrone where drifting is minimised. Getting samples from the canopy of trees has been made easy by drone suspended DeLeaves equipment and to overcome the underlying challenges of finding labour and productivity the M-Planter has proved to be effective and efficient when it comes to planting. The invention of GPS technology has helped in capturing, storing and sending actual data to forest managers for analysis.

For more information visit: foresttech