Precision silviculture: Sparking change from the ground up

Friday 24 May 2024

The Precision Silviculture Programme, in collaboration with Micro Innovation, is revolutionising practice change for forestry silviculture workers at ground level. Large research and innovation programmes often focus on macro-level transformations that take years to manifest, the Micro Innovation Challenge emphasises the importance of micro-level changes, which can have immediate, impactful results.

Silviculture workers possess invaluable on-the-ground knowledge, yet their insights are often underutilised. The Micro Innovation Challenge aims to change this by offering a streamlined process for capturing and evaluating innovative ideas. By funding prototype development without the need for complex proposals and red tape, this initiative empowers workers to implement practical solutions quickly.

In January 2024, the first Silviculture Micro Innovation Programme launched, running for eight weeks. Three innovators were awarded $15,000 grants to develop their prototypes. The outcomes will be showcased at ForestTech 2024. Here’s a snapshot of the winners and their concepts for change:

Matt Pearless: Pearless Silviculture

Silviculture workers often assist in wildfire control, requiring tools that are both lightweight and effective. Matt Pearless aims to develop a compact, well-balanced hand tool with a grubber head on one side and a small fire rake on the other, featuring a telescopic handle for easy transport. His prototype has already been tested in the Nelson and Port Hills fires, proving its operational value.

Patrick Carroll: Blinkhorne & Carroll

Advancing tree planting and enabling recording of tree location at the time of planting requires equipping workers with better tools. Patrick Carroll has developed a GPS-equipped spade that accurately records the location of planted seedlings, storing data on an SD card and transmitting it via Wi-Fi. With the grant, Patrick will upgrade the spade's components and refine its GPS accuracy to within 5-10 cm, using RTK GPS. The design team, supported by New Zealand's largest producer of planting spades, will conduct trials during the upcoming planting season.

Dean Anderson: Dean Anderson Contracting Ltd

Traditional tree thinning can lead to back issues and increased ground debris. Dean Anderson’s innovation involves thinning trees to a uniform height of 1.2 metres, which reduces worker fatigue and potential back problems, while also decreasing debris movement. The grant will fund a trial comparing this new method to traditional practices, including an independent assessment to document the results. Dean hopes this will inform future thinning practices across the sector.

Claire Stewart, Programme Manager of the Precision Silviculture Programme was impressed with the 25 ideas submitted to the challenge. It’s an effective way to harness the ingenuity of forestry workers, proving that small-scale innovations can lead to big impacts. All concepts were of a high standard, and we plan to run this as an annual challenge for the life of the programme which ends in 2029.

Source and image credit: Forest Growers Research
Image Credit: Micro Innovation

Environmental Forestry 2024

Share |

Copyright 2004-2024 © Innovatek Ltd. All rights reserved.