The city of Forssa purchased a new Valtra N174 Active, fitted with Palfinger-Epsilon C60F86 crane with the maximum reach of 8.8 metres. The machine was equipped with three different types of Nisula heads. The 425C harvester head is equipped with grapple arms, and the accumulating energy wood head 285E+ was also purchased at the same time for the purpose of tending young forests and park forests. The purchase also included the new Nisula G22 timber grapple with soil grapples.
When the equipment is suitable for the work at hand, the work can be completed efficiently. And when the equipment is in good shape, the employees enjoy their work. A tractor equipped with forest equipment can be used for a lot more than just conventional forestry work, provided that it is properly equipped. Then we must also have a competent operator who can maintain the machine and do the work correctly.
The green space management departments of cities perform different duties for the benefit of the city residents. The scope of duties is often quite narrow. In Forssa, however, the scope of duties is extensive and more equipment has been purchased so that all tasks can be done. The latest addition in the fleet is a Valtra N series tractor equipped by Nisula.
– When we look at the big picture and Forssa’s about 1,000 hectares of forests, of which 300 hectares are park forests near built-up areas, it is obvious that there is a lot of work to be done. Second thinning and regeneration felling projects are carried out with our partner UPM when the forests are certified and this partnership provides certain advantages. We take care of clearing seedling stands and carry out first thinning projects, and those we have quite a lot overdue, park works supervisor Ismo Ojansuu reveals. On this site, for example, brushwood is cleared with a brush cutter just 100 metres in front of the thinning.
– But the situation will improve now that we have a proper plan, Ismo tells. The goal is called ‘Bright Green Forssa’, and one of the objectives is to manage our commercial forests so that instead of thickets they produce high-quality timber that is suitable also for the forest industry. Carbon sequestration is also taken into account whenever possible.
– We are also guided by environmental issues and by the objective that the city residents can use the forests for recreational purposes. If a forest is impenetrable thicket, no one will go there normally and its recreational use is very limited. A neatly thinned forest always attracts more people. Special sites and other requirements, such as forest biodiversity, surveyed natural sites and animals living in the forest are always taken into account in management, Ismo continues.
The acquisition of a new tractor and crane was under consideration for a few years. After the promise of funding was made in 2018, Leila and Ismo visited the Okra farm fair and took a preliminary look at the options on the market. Long discussions were held with a number of suppliers on what can be expected from the machine combination in question and what is impossible to obtain.
– The longest discussions we had with Kalle Mattsson from Nisula Forest because Nisula had customers who were already using similar combinations, Leila commends. Preparing the invitation to tender was easier after that, and it also facilitated valuing different features in tenders. On the other hand, this familiarisation and discussions made it easier to discard some features and needs that we probably would not have been able to utilise that easily. Our objective was to get as versatile tractor as possible for different types of forestry work, and our choice could not have been better, Leila explains.
– We must also remember that one of the objectives of this equipment purchase was that there will no longer be need to send extra staff to perform auxiliary work on the site. Before the tractor and crane combination was purchased and the invitation to tender was prepared, a lot of consideration was given to determine the potential tasks for which the combination will be used. Forestry work was important, and that the machine can be used for thinning operations, but the same combination must also be able to remove a dangerous tree near a pathway and pick up the stem to the trailer. Large trees are not necessarily removed completely but they are cut at five metres and everything above that “stump” is removed from the site. One prerequisite for choosing the harvester heads was that they must also allow loading. This means that only one machine and operator can be all that is needed on a site.
– We are responsible for all forests of the city, and that includes removing dangerous trees alongside trails and other routes before they cause an accident. We cannot prevent anyone from going into forests during storms, although those are not the safest places to be at such a time, Ismo remarks. However, one of our duties is to spot all dangerous trees and remove them on time, he continues.
Nisula G22 timber grapple with soil grapples was also purchased for the crane to enable both the removal of old sand from playground sandpits and the delivery of new sand into the pits.
– These tasks take a lot of time but now we can do these just with one machine and a trailer, Ismo explains. The tasks can be scheduled to a time suitable for our own staff. This also applies to the delivery of new soil into flower beds. This work can be performed smoothly with a tractor – we just couple a trailer to the tractor and load the trailer with suitable soil. Positioning the soil exactly to the correct places is easy with the crane and soil grapples.
So the machine has a lot of work for the winter, provided that thinning projects are not prevented by the weather. And there are quite a lot of work scheduled for the summer as well. There is not yet an attachment for removing vegetation from road banks but it is under consideration. A roadside mulcher/shredder head would enable clearing the banks of local plan roads in June-July and this way tidy up the landscape.
The purchased machine should have reasonable use all year round, especially because the staff is scarce. All the manual work that can be done with a machine should be done with a machine.
– That is why this tractor is planned to have at least two, preferably three skilled operators, Ismo says. Now our number one operator is park woodland forester Ismo Väisänen who worked already with the previous tractor and harvester head which had guillotine cut function. Logger Ville Sillanpää will also be trained to operate the machine. The training provided by Nisula covered all the necessary aspects nicely.
No target profit but some would be appreciated
– Purchasing a machine that is used daily for green space management tasks in the city or for thinning operations in a forest can even generate some savings to the city. If we outsource all this work to contractors, at least their profit would be the extra that we must pay, Ismo considers. And having an external party on board means that there would be detailed discussions on the quality criteria, whereas now the criteria can be explained easily to the operator, he continues. On the other hand, the experience of park woodland forester Ismo Väisänen is at our disposal, and logger Ville Sillanpää is trained as a forest planner, so they can and are capable of planning the thinning work better than me, Ismo reveals.
– It was important to us that the attachments can be changed easily. This means that also tasks that are shorter than a day can be carried out whenever possible.
The city of Forssa purchased a new Valtra N174 that Nisula equipped for forestry work. The same control system is used for controlling the Nisula 425C harvester head and the accumulating energy wood head 285E+. Changing the head is quick and easy. The operators Ville Sillanpää and Ismo Väisänen.
Our organisation is probably a bit special because we do all kind of work ourselves. We want to do the work at the right time and just the way we want. The green space management department must pay special attention to the aspects related to recreational areas because we are basically employed by the city residents. Ismo Ojansuu and Leila Grönholm checking the thinning site.