Silviculture Micro Innovation Challenge

In January 2024, The Precision Silviculture Programme led by Forest Growers Research launched the first Silviculture Micro Innovation Challenge, running for eight weeks. Twenty-five ideas were received and three innovators were awarded $15,000 grants to develop their prototypes. This initiative is about driving incremental change from the ground up. The outcomes will be showcased at ForestTech 2024. Here’s a snapshot of the winners and their concepts for change:

Matt Pearless: Pearless Silviculture

Silviculture workers often assist in wildfire control, requiring tools that are both lightweight and effective. Matt Pearless aims to develop a compact, well-balanced hand tool with a grubber head on one side and a small fire rake on the other, featuring a telescopic handle for easy transport. His prototype has already been tested in the Nelson and Port Hills fires, proving its operational value and will be advanced further with this funding.

Patrick Carroll: Blinkhorne & Carroll

Advancing tree planting and enabling recording of tree location at the time of planting requires equipping workers with better tools. Patrick Carroll has developed a GPS-equipped spade that accurately records the location of planted seedlings, storing data on an SD card and transmitting it via Wi-Fi. With the grant, Patrick will upgrade the spade’s components and refine its GPS accuracy to within 5-10 cm, using RTK GPS. The design team, supported by New Zealand’s largest producer of planting spades, will conduct trials during the upcoming planting season.

Dean Anderson: Dean Anderson Contracting Ltd

Traditional tree thinning can lead to back issues and increased ground debris. Dean Anderson’s innovation involves thinning trees to a uniform height of 1.2 metres, which reduces worker fatigue and potential back problems, while also decreasing debris movement. The grant will fund a trial comparing this new method to traditional practices, including an independent assessment to document the results. Dean hopes this will inform future thinning practices across the sector.