Biomass and Bioenergy, Volume 66, 2014, Pages 93–102.
Walsha, b , M. Strandgarda, b
a University of the Sunshine Coast, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Victoria 3121, Australia and
b University of Melbourne, 500 Yarra Boulevard, Richmond, Victoria 3121, Australia.
Significant quantities of woody biomass from the tops of trees and larger woody ‘waste’ pieces that fall outside existing sawlog and pulpwood specifications are left on site post final harvest in Australian radiataPinus radiata (D. Don) (radiata pine) plantations. Woody biomass is a potential product for pulp making or energy generation. Commercial use of woody biomass from radiata pine plantations would add extra value to the Australian plantation estate through improved resource utilisation, and potentially reduced post-harvesting silvicultural costs. This study investigated the productivity and cost impact of the harvest and extraction to roadside of woody biomass in an integrated harvest operation in a typical Australian two machine (harvester/processor and forwarder), cut-to-length, clearfall operation in a mature, thinned radiata pine plantation.
The harvest operation yielded 23 GMt/ha (5% of the total yield) of woody biomass (known as ‘fibreplus’), 443 GMt/ha of sawlogs and 28 GMt/ha of pulpwood. The mean quantity of biomass left on site was 128 GMt/ha, mainly consisting of branches and needles, sufficient to minimise nutrient loss and protect the soil from erosion. Woodchips derived from the fibreplus product were suitable for kraft pulp making, (when blended in small amounts with clean de-barked roundwood woodchips), and for energy generation.
The method trialed with the fibreplus product being produced did not impact harvesting and processing productivity and costs, but extraction was 14% less productive. Through analysis of the productivities of each phase and development of a cost model the harvest and extraction of the fibreplus product was estimated to increase total unit costs by ∼4.9%.