Farm Ireland

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Insist on contract before starting

William Merivale

No plantation owner should enter into the sale of timber without a contract.

The Irish Timber Growers Association, the IFA and Teagasc are in the process of collaborating in the preparation of a standardised timber sales contract geared to Irish conditions which is likely to be available by the end of the year.

But in the absence of a standard protocol, private consultants and forestry management companies operate their own. A contract should set out clearly the owner's obligations, as well as those of the purchaser. In addition, the owner must remember that there are a number of legal requirements he must comply with before allowing contractors on site, including obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

The contract should include such items as the thinning method, systems and procedures to be employed, details of the roundwood to be included in the sale, agreed prices, the amount of deposit and payment schedules, insurance details, commencement and completion dates, and so forth. If the timber is to be sold by weight the contract should provide for haulage to the mill within a specified time.

In most instances, a first thinning will be done using the rack and selection method.

Normally, every seventh row of trees is removed, leaving a rack wide enough for the harvester and forwarder to travel.


Consequently, much of the palletwood -- the higher value material -- will come out of the racks and the selection should concentrate on the smaller, lower-quality stems in order to open up the stand for the benefit of the better trees. It is this aspect that requires control, a degree of supervision and a skilled operator.

Also Read

A frequent question asked by farm forest owners relates to security. How do you ensure that every load leaving the site is accounted for? Because, unless the owner can be on hand at all times (unlikely), this cannot be totally supervised. The best system currently available is the timber sales dispatch system developed by the Irish Timber Growers Association, which is gaining in use as private sector sales gather pace.

It was developed with the haulage contractors and sawmills, and is a docket-based system allowing for a record of every load of timber that leaves the site.

Prior to arrival, the haulier is obliged to notify the vendor by text message and the vendor returns a sequential permit number to the haulier. Before leaving the forest, the haulier then completes the docket giving his own details, the category of timber being drawn and an estimate of the weight.

The top copy of the docket is left on site in a secure box provided by the owner. This can then be tallied with each load as it comes into the mill, thus improving accountability and security, and increasing confidence on the part of owners. It is also auditable and designed to tie in with the requirements of forest certification.

Now is a good time to sell. Prices fluctuate according to individual site conditions, location and timber quality. But at present, for a standing sale an owner can expect to receive in the region of €5/t for pulpwood, €10-16/t for stakewood and €20-25/t for palletwood.

You will get a higher price at roadside, but harvesting costs to get it that far will be €22/t for pulp and pallet, and €26/t for stake.

Indo Farming