Scientists Develop New Tool to Detect Internal Decay in Trees
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.