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Heavy Mechanical Site Preparation

 

Shearing

Following harvest operations, stumps and unmerchantable standing timber often remain on site and impede access for planting crews and other management activities.  Shearing involves a large V-cutting blade attached to a bulldozer that severs stumps and uncut timber at or near the ground line.

  • Typically performed May-November but may be performed year-round as ground conditions and weather allow
  • Primary mechanical debris management method that facilitates future operations
  • May be combined with other silvicultural operations, such as bedding or ripping, in a single pass to reduce costs and improve productivity
  • Shearing is always performed on contour to reduce the potential for erosion and loss of topsoil

Shearing

Shearing  operation using a Caterpillar D8R.

 

Raking

Raking operations are performed to consolidate debris remaining from a shearing operation into piles or windrows to provide access for planting operations.  Raking is performed using a bulldozer with a raking blade rather than a straight blade in order to capture large debris while allowing topsoil and fine organic matter to pass through.

  • Typically performed May-November but may be performed year-round as ground conditions and weather allow
  • Windrows or piles may be burned in a pile burn
  • May be followed by other mechanical operations prior to planting such as ripping or bedding
  • Windrows are created on contour to reduce the potential for erosion and loss of topsoil

Raking

Raking  debris into windrows following a shearing operation using a Caterpillar D6.

 

Ripping with Cover Disk

Ripping (also called subsoiling) is a form of tillage designed to fracture compacted or heavy clay soils to facilitate root penetration and development of newly planted seedlings.  Ripping is performed using a heavy steel shank (typically 24 inches deep) that lifts and fractures compacted layers in the rooting zone and produces a large furrow in the soil.  The associated cover disk incorporates topsoil into the rip, reducing the amount of time needed for the rip to settle prior to planting while improving organic matter content, moisture holding capacity, and nutrient status of the planting zone.

  • Typically performed May-October but may be performed year-round as ground conditions and weather allow
  • Very common when converting pastureland to forestland
  • May be performed with a shearing or bedding operation in a single pass
  • Ripping is performed on contour to reduce the potential for erosion and loss of topsoil

Ripping with Cover Disk

Dual-shank  ripper with cover disks pulled by a Caterpillar D6.

 

Bedding

Bedding is the establishment of mounded rows of soil for the purpose of improving soil drainage and providing tillage to improve the rooting zone of planted seedlings.  Bedding is performed with a large bulldozer equipped with a heavy plow that exerts hydraulic pressure on multiple large disks that dig and overturn the soil creating a mound that is 8-14” (after weathering) above the normal ground line. 

  • Typically performed May-October but may be performed year-round as ground conditions and weather allow
  • Generally associated with wet sites, bedding raises the root zone above the normal water table, reducing the risk of root zone hypoxia and mortality
  • On sites requiring bedding, there is no substitute for this operation
  • May be performed with a shearing or ripping operation in a single pass
  • Bedding is performed on contour to reduce the potential for erosion and loss of topsoil

Bedding

Magnum  4-disk bedding plow pulled by a Caterpillar D8.