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Soil comopaction study on a cut-to-length mechanized harvesting system Public Deposited

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  • This study looked at the soil compaction effects resulting from a cut-to-length harvest system on an area in the western Cascade Range of Oregon. The cut-to-length harvest system is a mechanized system in which trees are fell, deliinbed, and bucked into short log lengths by a mechanical harvester. Logs are then picked up and carried to a landing area by a forwarder. The trails created by the harvester are typically also used by the forwarder. On this area, the locations of the equipment trails were laid out in advance of logging operations by the logging contractor. Equipment use of the trails was monitored and mapped. Trails were then divided into stratums based on the number of equipment passes. Stratum categories used were 1-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12, 13-20, 21-29, and 30+ equipment passes. Soil bulk density was determined by pass stratum using a single probe nuclear densiometer. Density measurements were taken at depths of 0-4, 0-8, and 0-12 inches. At each measurement point additional measurements made were: slope, 0 horizon depth, post harvest slash depth, slash quantity, and average slash size. Slash quantity and average slash size were ocular estimates categorized using index values. To estimate the change in soil bulk density, background density was estimated from a grid of measurement points placed on undisturbed areas over the entire unit. Compaction was found to increase significantly in areas with four or fewer passes, then remain relatively constant in areas up to at least twenty passes. After thirty or more passes, an increase in compaction was again noted. Density increases over undisturbed were greatest in the upper 4 inches of the soil surface, increasing 20 percent after four or fewer passes and 28.6 percent after thirty or more passes. The values for slash parameters were greatest for the 1-4 stratum and least for the 30+ stratum. Mean values for the slash parameters for the 5-6, 7-8, and 9-20 pass stratums are not statistically different but in general, there was a trend of decreasing mean values for slash parameters with increasing number of equipment passes. Regression analysis showed no association with slope, 0 horizon depth or any of the slash parameter values. Only a root value of nuither of equipment passes was significant though r-squared values were low. Total percentage of area covered by equipment trails was 23.2 percent.
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