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May/June 2024 | Muedanyi Ramantswana

Mechanised Planting Productivity and Quality: The PlantMax Journey

Tree Planting


PlantMax is a mechanised planting machine developed by Plantma AB, and its primary functions include soil preparation (scarification/subsoiling), fertilizing, planting seedlings, and firming. Over the past few years, PlantMax has been tested in various conditions and undergone improvements to meet the needs of tree growers across the globe. For more background information about the PlantMax machine, refer to Forsilvitech articles shared in 2021 (continuous-tree-planting-with-the-plantmax)    and 2023 (Plantmax-x2-in-south-america). This article aims to share the PlantMax journey over the past few years.

Brief history of the PlantMax
Development of the prototype machine, the Plantma X, started in 2018 and the first field tests were conducted in late 2019. The machine underwent further testing in 2020 by large forest companies in Sweden. Through the testing process, valuable lessons were derived to improve the machine’s functionality and durability. Thereafter (2021/2022), the machine was demonstrated across different parts of the world, such as Canada, New Zealand, and Brazil. The machine was positively received, and further modifications were made based on the users’ inputs.

Looking at 2023 and 2024
Brazil - in 2023, the X3 generation of planters were produced, predominantly for the Brazilian market. Due to the increased demand, further machines are being produced for this market for 2024 and 2025.
Canada - in 2023 the machine was demonstrated for 2 months in Canada, in 2024 the machine is scheduled for two more demos, and the first delivery to a client is planned for some time during the second half of the year.
Australia – the first machine was delivered in May 2024 to Form Forests and Environment, based in Western Australia.
Sweden – existing clients are utilizing their machines successfully and will potentially be acquiring more machines.
Latvia - at the end of May 2024, PlantMax will be doing field trials in Latvia, hosted by Latvia’s State Forest (LVM)

Modifications made on the PlantMax
Planting requirements differ globally, the flexibility of the PlantMax and its ability to be modified to meet the needs is important. Field testing is currently being undertaken in Sweden of the newly developed “PlantMax Subsoiler", and the first units will be delivered to Brazil this year. The subsoiler will be available as an alternative to the MidiFlex scarifier. It will have optional fertilizing equipment and perform subsoiling for both planting arms. More information and technical specifications will be released shortly.

Here are some of the additional changes that can be made to the machine as the need arises.
• Increase the range of spacing (up to 3.85m)
• Integration of the ripping tines for subsoil instead of scarifying discs
• Integration of the fertilization to the planting

Productivity and planting quality
PlantMax has consistently been reported to plant over 2000 seedlings per hour within acceptable planting quality requirements. The machine is equipped with a GPS that tracks the movement of the machine and registers the coordinates for each seedling, but third-party solutions can be integrated to provide route planning/steering support for the operator as well as more precise positioning of the planted seedling.

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