Biomass Burning Alternatives - Tractor Crushing and Excavator Clearing


This page last reviewed July 7, 2008

  • Tractor Crushing: ($60 to $140 per hour)
    This technique is used as a preburn treatment to kill portions of the live vegetation and to compact the ground fuels. This technique is then followed up with a prescribed burn to reduce the fuel loading. Crushing and compacting the fuel allows for a more uniform burn and increases fuel consumption. Smaller tractors are needed in a forest stands to prevent damage to trees. Larger tractors work effectively in brush fields to crush and compact the vegetation.

  • Excavating Bucket/Rake Clearing: ($130 to $170 per hour)
    This equipment is used both for fuels reduction and site preparation work. This equipment is usually track mounted. The excavator has the ability to reach 25' to each side without moving which allows for fuels to be picked up and placed into piles with a minimal amount of movement. This type of equipment can work effectively on slopes up to 50%. This equipment is very effective at piling fuels 2" in diameter and larger while leaving the smaller fuels and organic matter in place.
Forest Products:
  • NONE
Advantages of Tractor Crushing:
  • Compaction and drying of fuels reduces the smoldering phase in burning, thus reducing smoke emissions
  • Allows for burning in wetter conditions when atmospheric conditions are more conducive to smoke dispersal
Advantages of Excavator Bucket/Rake Clearing:
  • Piles are free of dirt and burn quickly thus reducing smoke emissions
  • No compaction due to low ground pressure equipment
  • Smaller fuels and organic matter is left on site
Disadvantages of Tractor Crushing:
  • Compactions of soil may occur if operated under wet conditions
  • Damage may occur to remaining trees by the tractor or burning operations
Disadvantages of Excavator Bucket/Rake Clearing:
  • Cannot work side hill or downhill effectively
  • Slow moving equipment


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