The challenge of non-purpose-built equipment
In the absence of a purpose-built prime mover to pull the plows, regular agriculture tractors are commonly seen in silviculture operations in various parts of the world (e.g. Central America and Mexico). These tractors are not designed to work in post-harvest sites. According to the customers, the long-term use of agriculture tractors or non-purpose-built equipment in silvicultural applications can significantly increase running costs and negatively impact production targets due to excessive mechanical repair and downtime. Also, because of low ground clearance and reduced tire flotation, some of these machines are susceptible to bog down in soft soil conditions, typical of the plantation land across various areas.
Current re-establishment practices
Where the commercial plantations are clear-felled on six-year rotations using full-tree harvesting systems, post-harvest, the cut blocks typically contain residual wood material and debris that hampers accessibility for subsequent silvicultural activities. Usually, the site preparation consists of Savannah 340, bedding plows to mound the material, and preparing a planting bed up to 45 cm (eighteen inches) above ground level and subsoiling with a single swept shank to a depth of 40 to 50 cm (15 to 19 inches). The raised beds are usually required to prevent the seedlings from drowning, and to promote more robust root development.
The introduction of Tigercat’s purpose-built site preparation machinery can as a result of prevailing factors, such as:
• The need to achieve production targets,
• The drive to meet sustainability goals,
• The desire to improve safety,
• Uptimes requirements,
• The aging fleet's replacement
Optimal silviculture solution
In late 2020 Tigercat, agreed to customize a 630H skidder, fitting it with a drawbar in order to act as the prime mover for the heavy Savannah plow system. This provided the purpose-built alternative to agriculture tractors that Latin Equipment and its customer were seeking in order to meet the productivity and sustainability goals. The first of two 630H utility carriers were introduced into Mexico last March, and at first impression, it exceeded all expectations.
Main advantages if using the Tigercat 630H carrier for silviculture operations:
- Plenty of cab room
- Turnaround °rotating seat, notably improving rearward visibility with minimal neck strain
- The reliable structural and driveline components
- Robust transmission that does not overheat as the other tractors do
- The articulation joint and axles are really built to last
- The robust drawbar is like a bulldozer, well reinforced to perform its function optimally
Findings and experiences thus far
The first pair of 630H carriers has provided a massive productivity boost in the first months of operation. Operating costs are the key factor here, and due to efficiency and quick working travel speed, production per liter of fuel consumed is much superior to a comparable product. Productivity and cost studies up to this point are demonstrating excellent results – increased productivity and a 30% reduction in fuel consumption. The machines are sturdier, stronger, and much faster than regular agricultural tractors, which in turn, makes them more productive and accurate. The two machines are averaging up to 130 ha (320 acres) per week in a single 8 hours shift, double the production of the three tractors they replaced. This production rate easily exceeds all productivity and performance expectations and assumptions.
For more information, contact
José Carlos Rocha Filho, marketing and commercial manager at Latin Equipment Norte