Forest Mulching is a fast land clearing and preparation system that fells and crushes trees or vegetations, turning them into a mulch. This process is carried out using either a specific masticator, brushcutter or mulcher which uses a rotary drum attached to a steel chipper teeth or blades for cutting the vegetation in shreds.
Tractors and coupled implements used for forestry mulching have been built for this specific purpose, and some of them are designed as heavy duty to work on as much as 15 acres land mass daily, putting into consideration factors like topography, vegetation type and density.
Forest mulching can be done to fulfil a couple of purposes as seen below.
Plant Population Control
This may mean control of Invasive plant species as well. Certain species of plant might need to be controlled or discouraged for many reasons such as high nutrient consumption, high water requirements, or high pest attacks. All of these may deplete the ecosystem, reduce timber quality and so on. Examples of invasive plants are buckthorn and salt cedar. Pine beetle is an example of invasive pests. Using forestry mulching for this purpose helps to create only specific destruction, leaving economically important species as untouched as possible.
Conservation of Nature
To conserve nature, government, NGOs, companies, ministries, and private organizations have resorted to forestry mulching. Some of the popular animals at the heart of these people or entities are deer, doves, and elk.
Clearing of Land Space
Forestry mulching is a great method applied in land clearing preparation and development for domestic and commercial purposes. Projects such as real estate, recreational parks and nature reserves can be achieved through forestry mulching.
Road Construction and Town Planning
Certain projects which require total uprooting of trees, stumps and other vegetations can be achieved through forestry mulching. Examples of such projects are road construction, pipeline laying, town planning or layout, railway, highway, and road mapping.
Prevention of Natural Disaster
Natural disaster such as forest wildfire can be prevented with forestry mulching, intervening at three different levels as seen below.
- Proactive System: This is a preventive system which is used to clean up sprouted leafy plants, collapsed or decomposing trees and stumps, and other materials that may serve as fuel or trigger for fire incidents. Most of these materials are like ticking time bombs that may create or assist forest fires in form of ladders to the treetops.
- Reactive Mulching: This is a control measure that arrests fire incidents to quench and prevent spread by breaking the lines of active fires. This is cost effective when you consider the cost of cleaning up after a fire.
- Post-Incident Mulching: Also known as clean up, post-incident mulching cleans up after a fire incident. The special tractor, mulcher and other coupled implements are used to bed the soil top against erosion.
Gains of Forestry mulching
Forestry mulching preserves the topsoil from leeching off because of erosion. Mulches also add nutrients to the soil via decomposition. This is better than traditional systems that mostly disturb the soil arrangement and even cause erosion.
Forestry mulchers give room for efficiency of work that may not be gotten via traditional means. Certain topography, soil structure, land sizes and weather conditions do not support traditional methods but can be easily maneuvered with forestry mulching systems.
Forestry mulching effectively applies to targeted plants without disturbing the useful plants, soil, and the ecosystem.
Like every other mechanized activity, forestry mulching saves time compared to the traditional methods. More work is done in shorter time, giving room for economic improvement at the long run. Broken down processes such as felling, cutting, brushing, clearing etc., which used to take longer days are being done within shorter time frame.
Forestry mulching reduces tendency to rely on much larger machines such as bulldozer and reduces the number of equipment needed. With most basic forestry mulcher, one may need only one machine all through, reducing emission, combustion, and fuel consumption.
Shortfalls of Forestry Mulching
Forestry mulching is most undoubtedly of great socioeconomic advantage in the world of agriculture, building and urbanization. There are however some disadvantages of forestry mulching.
Even when using the biggest forestry mulching machines, there is a limitation to the size of land mass that can be operated on. For landmass larger than twenty-five tons vegetation cover or one hundred trees per acre, forestry mulching is ineffective.
Despite the efficiency and time conservation experienced with forestry mulching system compared to traditional method, it can be laborious using in a forest or vegetation without sufficient road network or routes for fuel and maintenance.
Obstructive Soil Structure
Some soil structure is extremely rocky and stony which can be a disadvantage when operating forestry mulchers. Such rocks and stones get in the way of equipment and leading to rapid wear and tear of parts. Invasion of these particles can also lead to small accidents if they fly around, hitting operators or house structures.
Tree Size Limitations
Most forestry mulchers can only remove smaller trees because of the size and shape of the mulching head. For trees that fall in the diameter range of six to eight inches one must use mulching heads that rotate vertically while mulchers that rotate horizontally will cut trees with up to thirty inches diameter. Mulching trees outside of these brackets can be disastrous.
Significant Differences between Forestry Mulching and Traditional Mulching
Traditional Land Clearing
|Cost effective at the long run||High cost and expensive|
|Naturally controls erosion.||There is need for additional control of erosion such as catch basins and silt fencing.|
|Burning, chipping, or hauling is not required.||Requires burning, chipping, burying, and hauling.|
|It has a visual appeal||The sight is unappealing|
|The result is more ecosystem friendly by recycling biomass||It does not recycle biomass|
|Does not require permit often||Permit often required|
|Works in most weathers||Weather selective|