Increasing the Value Recovery from Short-Rotation Coppice Harvesting

Stefan Paula Patrick Vanbeveren, Natascia Magagnotti, Raffaele Spinelli


Farmers are reluctant to establish short-rotation coppice because too many uncertainties remain about its economic feasibility. Up to now, most progress has been accomplished by increasing plantation yields through genetic improvement and by reducing management costs through mechanization. In contrast, the potential increase of value recovery has received much less attention. We therefore compared whole-tree chipping with integrated harvesting to test whether more profit could be made by producing pulpwood logs and wood chips, rather than wood chips only. The two systems were compared side-by-side with identical machinery on the same field. Chip production cost was higher for integrated harvesting (15 € Mg-1), because the system was less productive (9 Mg h-1), as compared with whole-tree chipping (9 € Mg-1 and 25 Mg h-1). Pulpwood log production only occurred with the integrated harvesting system, at a cost of 8 € Mg-1. Integrated harvesting incurred higher production costs, but also accrued better value recovery. Under current market conditions, the two systems offered similar profits, in the vicinity of 5000 € ha-1. However, integrated harvesting offered higher flexibility, with a potentially better resilience to market fluctuations.


Integrated harvesting; Poplar; Productivity; Whole-tree chipping; Wood chips

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