US Forest Service Woody Biomass Utilization

Woody Biomass Utilization

Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Medford District

Medford, Oregon

The demonstration took place in a mixed conifer stand located near Medford, Oregon. Terrain is suitable for tractor harvest (less than 30% slope). One-half of the demonstration area was harvested by a Cut to Length (CTL) system. The remaining half was harvested with a conventional tractor harvesting system. Harvest area was under contract to Boise Cascade Corporation. Approximately 18 to 20 tons of slash was bundled. Cogeneration opportunities exist at the "Biomass One" facility in White City, Oregon, and Wheelabrator in Anderson, California. BLM and Boise Cascade Corporation are interested in evaluating utilization of bundles in local biomass market. This was also a chance to compare slash bundling to traditional fuels treatments.

Where: Bureau of Land Management Active Timber Sale.

Sponsored By: Medford District, Bureau of Land Management, and the John Deere Corporation.

When: Public Demonstration day - August 26, 2003. Agency Demonstration day - August 27, 2003.

What: A field demonstration of a unique piece of equipment, the first of its kind in North America, designed specifically to pick up forest residue or slash from land management activities. The John Deere 1490D slash bundler collects, compresses, and bundles thinning slash and logging residues for effective and economical transport to a co-generation plant for energy production. The machine was tested on eight different sites in four western states. Each project site involved pretreatment measurements, elemental production study, post treatment measurement of effects, and technology transfer through "field day" demonstrations.

Machine Test Issues and Preliminary Results

By Blair Moody (BLM)

Ground Disturbance Levels - It was noted by Mark Prchal soil scientists from the Rogue River National Forests that the levels of ground disturbance activities were well within the acceptable range for ground skid operations, particularly rubber tired. Mark did not take any actual measurements but used his professional experience to judge his comments. In some cases, bundler operations may have gotten off of the designated skid roads, but I was not the sale administrator so I do not know where they all were. I don't believe any harm could be attributed from the bundler operation when this occurred. Research plots established by the Southern Research Station for determining disturbance levels before and after the test will disclose to us the actual disturbance levels.

Maneuverability in heavy commercial thin treatment areas - The Bundler performed extremely well in the open areas of the approximate 18 acres of the demonstration site. The prescription for this site called for a selection harvest with the main objective to increase the stocking levels of Douglas fir while removing as much White Fir as possible. This prescription produced a sizeable quantity of White Fir and Douglas fir mistletoe slash. Damage to the residual stand was not noted due to the openness of the harvest.

Ability to leave required amounts of down woody material - There was adequate down woody material before the project started and it remains so now that the project has been completed. Before the trial I assumed we would receive accusations from individuals of picking up too much material and not leaving enough to decompose and add to the soil nutrients. In reality, perhaps we left too much which is probably a function of the clam on the shovel and the age of the slash as it was becoming brittle. The unit is certainly plantable the way it is now. Fuels folks will determine if there is any work that is needed now that the demonstration is complete.

Terrain limitations - There were no observable limitations for operations on our test site as it was a relatively flat area.

Production rates - I have not heard what the production rates were per hour or per day. I'm not sure what production rates could be achieved with a more experienced operator. I noted when the forwarder was able to pre-bunch concentrations of slash, the Bundler's production rates increased exponentially.

Utilization - We were able to load out five loads of bundles to regional co-generation plants for applicability tests. One truck with 12 bundles was delivered to the local Biomass One co-generation plant in White City. The company produced a thorough analysis of these bundles. Two more truck loads totaling 24 bundles were shipped to Boise's White City plant where they will be chipped in a portable chipper when enough other woody debris accumulates on their designated site. Finally, 68 bundles were shipped to Wheelabrator's co-generation facility in Anderson, California, approximately 180 miles south of the demo site. I am still waiting for the test results from both Boise and Wheelabrator. If bundler operations were to prove applicable to this area, truck trailers would need to be designed that could adequately and safely carry these bundles to markets.

Media Coverage and Public Attendance - Unfortunately, the press release from the BLM was never published in the local newspaper, which greatly affected the public presentation day. Despite of this, we had 21 members of the public that took the time to view the demonstration. We did however, have excellent media coverage with three television stations, one radio station, and the local large newspaper. I feel that all media coverage was very positive.

In addition to the public viewing day, we had 18 federal and state employees view the demonstration on agency day, and 38 board members of the Oregon Logging Conference view the demonstration the previous week, for a respectful total of 77.


Picture of the John Deere 1490 slashbundler at work.
The John Deere 1490 "slash-bundler" at work.
A picture of slash bundles being measured for lengths and weights.
Slash bundles are measured for lengths and weights.
A picture of loading bundles into a large container.
A variety of hauling methods have been demonstrated, including loading bundles into this container.
Picture of a standard log truck with additional bunks added to accomodate slash bundles.
A standard log truck with additional bunks added to accommodate slash bundles.
Picture of a stationary "v-chipper" used to chip bundles at Wheelabrator in Anderson, California.
A stationary "v-chipper" used to chip bundles at Wheelabrator in Anderson, California.
A picture of a tub grinder being tested for grinding slash bundles at Biomass One in Medford, Oregon.
Tub grinder being tested for grinding slash bundles at Biomass One in Medford, Oregon.


Bob Rummer, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station Project Leader
Forest Operations Research
Telephone: (334) 826-8700

Blair Moody, BLM Medford District (Medford Site Coordinator)
Telephone: (541) 618-2207 or (541) 618-2200

US Forest Service
Woody Biomass Utilization Team
Sidney R.Yates Federal Building
3rd Floor Southwest
201 14th Street, S.W. at Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

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Last modified: Thursday, 06-Oct-2016 15:57:21 CDT