Chances aplenty for wood owners to test machines as aids to thinning
During the 1990s, a surge in tree planting took place as Irish farmers realised the advantages presented by the improved afforestation schemes.
Thousands of hectares were planted throughout Ireland and much of this area is now ready for thinning.
The rapid increase in the price of timber and the extraordinary demand for wood fuel has put a solid base value on all thinnings, be they conifer or hardwood. This demand could not have come at a better time as it allows farmers to carry out the essential first thinning of their woods and still end up with a profit.
Second and subsequent thinnings will, of course, be increasingly profitable, and to maximise their returns, many farmers like to carry out at least part of this work themselves.
A wide variety of forestry machines have evolved to cater for the needs of the smaller woodland owner and a range of these will be on show at Birr.
Many farmers own mixed woodland with relatively small areas of different species, which require management at varying ages, and it can be difficult to hire the necessary machinery when needed.
Some farmers manage their smaller areas of less than, say, 8ha by felling with chainsaws and extracting by means of a quad and trailer, by a tractor and small forwarding trailer with crane, by winch or even hiring a horse logger to do the job.
All of these systems work well and are cost effective for the smaller woodland owner. Larger plantations are catered for with the huge, highly computerised harvesters that are principally used by Coillte and the other major woodland owners.