Farmers performing their own timber harvest on their woodlots is common in the Scandinavian countries. Using specialized logging attachments on modified farm tractors, they often log during the winter when their normal farming operations are suspended. Their total impact on the forest industry is substantial. Part-time logger/farmers produce nearly one third of the wood utilized by Scandinavia's large lumber and paper industry. Logging their own timber also provides Scandinavian farmers with additional income. The forest industry pays a higher price for wood piled at roadside than it does for standing timber. If the logger/farmer can log the wood to roadside with his farm tractor logging system for less cost than the increase he gains in price, he can profit from doing his own logging.
Although many American farmers own timberland, have farm tractors suitable for logging, and have a slack season during the winter, part-time farm tractor logging is not common in the United States. In some areas, the forest industry raw material supply infrastructure discourages wood produced by part-time farmer/loggers. Some forest products companies prefer to buy stumpage, or standing timber, from the forest landowner and have it logged to their specifications and delivered to their mill by a preferred group of professional full-time logging contractors. Through this arrangement, they maintain greater control over the quality, quantity, and scheduling of their raw material flow. However, there are areas where landowner-produced wood is welcomed. For example, a large paper mill in southwestem Alabama recently announced a special wood procurement program aimed at encouraging the production of pulpwood banked, or piled, at roadside by small-scale fammer/loggers for subsequent collection by paper company logging trucks.
Farmers considering part-time farm tractor logging may also have justifiable concern over the issue of safety. Logging is the single most dangerous occupation in the United States, according to Labor Department statistics. Logging accidents occur at a rate 2.5 times the average for all other industries, and a full-time logger has a better than 1 in 1,000 chance of getting killed on the job! Many farmers (and their wives) simply don't want to risk the accident and injury exposure that logging involves, and rightfully so. However, with professional training, extensive use of personal protective equipment (such as hard hat, saw chaps, and steel-toe boots) and a healthy respect for the dangers inherent in logging, a properly equipped farmer could develop a profitable part time farm tractor logging operation for use on his own forest land.
Small-scale farm tractor logging may also be used in certain cases to lessen the environmental impact of a timber harvesting operation. The smaller, lighter farm tractor may be able to operate effectively on partial cuts in dense timberstands where larger skidders or forwarders might possibly cause residual stand damage or soil compaction. A farm tractor logging system, with its relatively low capital investment and operating costs, may be an effective way to meet other non-timber landowner objectives that require logging small areas infrequently, like clearing wildlife plots or opening up recreation areas. Larger, full-time professional loggers with higher capital and operating costs often cannot afford to move their equipment for such small jobs. Finally, farm tractor logging can be a very effective system for producing firewood from the farm woodlot for personal consumption or commercial sale.
For a part-time owner/operator farm tractor logging venture to be successful, the following criteria should be met:
Two modified farm tractor logging systems are commonly used and available commercially in the United States. They are (1) a skidder system and (2) a forwarder system.
In a skidder system, the trees are manually felled with a chainsaw. The logger then delimbs (cuts the limbs off flush with the bole) and tops (cuts off the bole of the tree near the top at the point where the tree's diameter falls below minimum merchantable size) the tree where it lies at the stump. Whenever possible, the trees should be directionally felled with the butts oriented toward the landing, or location to which the trees will be skidded. This will make the skidding job easier. After a few trees have been felled, delimbed, and topped, the logger moves his modified farm tractor skidder into position, sets the brake, pulls out the winch cable, attach es the chain or cable chokers to the butts of two or three trees, winches them in to the tractor, raises the ends up with the three point hitch, and skids the tree-length stems to the roadside landing. At roadside, he bucks the trees (measures and cuts the tree-length stems into specified log lengths). After a full truckload of logs or pulpwood has been banked at roadside, a self-loading log truck (one with a hydraulic knuckle-boom loader mounted just behind the cab) picks them up and delivers the load of logs or pulpwood to the mill.
For a skidder logging application, the farm tractor should be modified as follows:
A skidder system is the most economical farm tractor logging system, requiring the minimum amount of additional investment. It is most efficient when the skidding distance from the stump to the roadside landing averages less than 500 feet.
With a farm-tractor forwarder logging system, the trees are also manually felled with a chainsaw. They are delimbed, topped, and bucked into log lengths at the stump. The logs are then loaded onto a logging trailer with a grapple loader mounted on a modified farm tractor. After loading the logs onto the logging trailer, the farm tractor pulls, or forwards, the trailer to the roadside landing. At the roadside landing, the operator off-loads the logs from the logging trailer using the grapple loader either directly onto a log truck or stacks them in a pile for later pickup and delivery to the mill.
For use as a forwarder, a farm Tractor should be modified as follows:
A logging (forwarding) trailer (Figure 3) is also required in a forwarder logging system. The trailer can range from a common four-wheel flatbed utility farm trailer equipped with four temporary standards (upright poles to hold the logs on the trailer), to a PI O-powered, bogie-axle, specially designed logging/railer. The latter can cost from $2,000 to $5,000. A few manufacturers are listed in the Appendix.
Obviously, using a farm tractor as a forwarder requires a larger investment in equipment than a farm tractor skidder system. Advantages of forwarder logging include a larger payload on each trip from stump to landing, less ground disturbance since the logs are being carried rather than skidded, the ability to stack and/or off-load the logs directly on a truck at the landing, and the opportunity to use the grapple loader attachment as a versatile agricultural implement. For farmers with larger woodlots and long skid distances who plan to do considerable part/time logging and have their own log truck, a forwarder system may prove well worth the investment.
Part-time farm tractorlogging has not been common in the United States. However, as forest stewardship programs increase landowner awareness regarding the interrelationship of timber harvesting with wildlife and other multiple-use aspects of forest management, woodlot owners with a tractor and a chainsaw may see advantages in being able to do their own logging.
For additional information on logging, contact your local Virginia Department of Forestry area forester, Forestry Extension at Virginia Tech, or one of Virginia's 1,100 professional logging contractors. But remember, each and every workday, over 70 persons are injured on a logging job somewhere in this country. If you are going to log, get the proper training and equipment, and BE SAFE!
P.O. Box 164
Lynden, WA 98264
J & R Enterprises (Brumfield Farm Logger)
P.O. Box 97
Montesano, WA 98563
Les Equipments Hardy Ine. (Agri-Winch)
100 Rue St. Arthur Portneuf Station, Quebee
Nokka-Koneet (Nokka logging winch)
Orion Yhtyma Oy Normet (Farmi logging winch)
Elkem - Spigerverket a/s (Norse logging winch)
Stal og Tau
Fransgard (Fransgard logging winch)
Fredberg, DK 9640 Farso
Gafner Machine Inc. (L'il Gaf hydraulic grapple loader)
P.O. Box 401
Nokka-Koneet (Nokka hydraulic grapple loader)
Orion Yhtyma Oy (Farmi hydraulic grapple loader)
Normet 74510 Peltosalmi,
Bercomac Ltee (Berco hydraulic grapple loader)
2815 chemin de l'Aeroport
Thetford Mines, Quebec
Les Equipments CAJEC Inc. (Cajec mini-loader)
222 2e Ave.
Kesla Oy (Patu logging trailer)
Nokka-Koneet (Nokka logging trailer)
Orion Yhtyma Oy Normet (Farmi logging trailer).
Bercomac Ltee (Berco logging trailer)
2815, chemin de l'Aeroport
Les Equipments Inc. (GAJEC logging trailer)
222 2e Ave.
Harper Equipment Ltd. (Harper logging trailer)
Fredericton, New Brunswick
A. Lacasse Engineering (Lacasse logging trailer)
41 Route Abenakis
Ste. Clair, Quebec
Northeast Implement Corp.
P.O. Box 402
Spencer, NY 14883
Woodlot Management Equipment Company
P.O. Box 455
Liberty, NC 27298
Consumer Product Safety Commission (chainsaw safety publications)
Washington, DC 20207
Tilton Equipment Company (chainsaw training programs)
Rye, NH 03870
Soren Eriksson Training, Inc. (chainsaw training programs)
9237 Ridge Rd.
Hiram, GA 30141
North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service
(chainsaw safety and training videotape series) NC State University
Raleigh, NC 27612
Various chainsaw manufacturers (chainsaw safety videos and publications)
The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Virginia Cooperative Extension is implied.
Reviewed by Scott Barrett, Research Associate, Forestry
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
May 1, 2009