At last an Irish kit that targets private woodland
At last we have a machine that is designed specifically for farm forests and mixed species woodland. It has been a long time coming but finally, after two decades of the current afforestation scheme, we now have a forwarder available that is specifically designed for Irish woods and Irish conditions.
Its arrival is timely as many farmers are about to commence first thinning. With an average plantation size of eight hectares, it is difficult to justify using the huge and costly machines that were formerly the only ones available.
The transport costs alone are prohibitive when moving such equipment and contractors are naturally reluctant to haul in to an area where they may have only one or two day's work.
In the past, woodland management and design in Ireland was based on the machinery that was available. We should of course have been doing it the other way around, managing our woods to achieve maximum growth rates and harvesting them economically by using appropriate equipment.
Darragh Hand of Falcon engineering in Dromone, Oldcastle, Co Westmeath, has a fine track record of producing machinery that farmers actually need. This latest product appears ideal for the task without the many drawbacks associated with traditional large equipment.
The Falcon F40 can carry four tonnes, has a crane reach of 5.3m and a ground clearance of 550mm. Its narrow width and 8500mm wide flotation tyres provide minimum ground compaction while ensuring it can comfortably work in difficult terrains.
In the past I have argued long and hard for the use of smaller, low ground pressure machinery that can extract timber without causing compaction or requiring wide extraction racks.
After watching standard harvesters and forwarders in my woods for a Forest Service demonstration, I realised that there had to be a better way.