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Scientists Develop New Tool to Detect Internal Decay in Trees

Photo of A new, portable tree testing tool for determining the hazard potential of urban trees. R. Bruce Allison, Allison Tree Care, Inc.A new, portable tree testing tool for determining the hazard potential of urban trees. R. Bruce Allison, Allison Tree Care, Inc.Snapshot : Through collaboration with an industrial partner, the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory helped develop a handheld tool to assist tree inspectors with detecting internal decay in standing trees.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Senalik, Christopher AdamRoss, Robert J.
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1038

Summary

Researchers at the Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory have shown that mechanical waves traveling through wood could be recorded and analyzed to detect the presence of internal decay. Unfortunately, recording mechanical waves usually required costly data acquisition systems and was rarely practical outside a test laboratory. Researchers Adam Senalik and Bob Ross, working in collaboration with R. Bruce Allison of Allison Tree, LLC, developed a successful prototype tool capable of recording mechanical waves using accelerometers and open source computer hardware that were both commercially available and low cost. Allison refined the prototype model into a finished tool, which he named the Tree Check Sonic Wave Tree Decay Detector. With the development of the Tree Check tool, tree inspectors now had access to an affordable tool that greatly enhanced their ability to assess the internal condition of standing trees. In June 2016, the tree check tool was demonstrated to area arborists and tree care professionals at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. The Tree Check Sonic Wave Tree Decay Detector is a commercially available product made possible by the successful transfer of the laboratory’s research to usable technology through collaboration with industry partners.

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