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and then we go back and core out the stump

as well, because it has heartwood oil in it

below the ground,” Mr Barnes said.

Mr Barnes also explained that the

company uses ride-on deck mowers to

maintain the areas surrounding planted

land, and often requires generators for

plantations that have restricted access to

power. It also relies on Kabota and John

Deere tractors for multiple applications.

“It’s not traditional forestry in a sense, it’s

more of a horticultural tree where we do a

lot of weed control with tractors, we do a

lot of mulching and slashing with tractors,

even trimming like hedging with sickle bars

mounted on a tractor. We use a lot of front-

end loaders; tractors with forks and buckets

on them,” he said.

The site’s location at Burdekin presents

some challenges with regards to size and

proximity for servicing; however, it is

relatively close to civilisation compared

with some of the other plantations.

“Burdekin is probably our best site in

terms of proximity. It is close to population,

even though it is about 80 or 90 kilometres

from Ayr. It is isolated for the Burdekin

area, and is one of the most outlying areas

in the irrigation area, but it is much closer

to civilisation than anywhere else we

grow them. There is much better service

backup there, like contractors and parts

providers. Size comes with the challenge

of keeping track of everything. Just to drive

around 1500 hectares and check things is

hard. Some of the farms can be up to 4000

hectares, so it starts to get quite big,” he said.

QUALITY, SAFETY AND SERVICE

A number of aspects play part in what

equipment is chosen at TFS; however,

Mr Barnes said that one of the most

important things to consider is the ease

of follow up servicing.

“We vary our brands a fair bit,

depending on the site. We tend to go

for ones that are more easily serviced.

Sometimes here, you only get one or two

brands that can get serviced at all, and a lot

of it comes back to the backup parts and

availability. Generally as a rule, we rely on

the people we buy the equipment from

to back us up with service. Sometimes

with isolated areas, the servicing will go a

long way towards selecting where we buy

equipment from, just because we know the

backup is there. Even if it is dearer to start

with, a company might have a really good

servicing arrangement, which carries a lot

of weight,” Mr Barnes explained.

Another important aspect of equipment

selection for TFS is safety. For this reason,

the company has chosen to use equipment

that uses diesel fuel, and will not purchase

products requiring petroleum.

“We have actually switched from petrol

to diesel due to safety. Diesel is a lot less

flammable, so when you are refuelling

equipment there is a lot less risk with diesel

fuel. Fire is a big risk to the trees as well as

the people. We are always looking for better

ways to keep operations safe,”Mr Barnes said.

To keep things running safely and

effectively, Mr Barnes said that the

plantations each have a mechanic on site.

“They tend to do the basic servicing on site.

Generators here run 24 hours a day, seven days

a week, so our mechanics are servicing them

every 10 to 12 days. We cannot always call

someone out for that sort of thing, so we do

some of that ourselves,”Mr Barnes explained.

THE END PRODUCT

The systems and equipment in place at the

plantations make it possible for TFS to

retain a focus on sustainability, as well as

create high quality products and contribute

back to the community. Once the trees are

harvested and cut using chainsaws, they

are processed at the Mount Romance

processing facility inWestern Australia; the

world’s largest distiller of sandalwood oil.

The trees are eventually used to create high

quality wood products and pharmaceutical

grade Indian sandalwood oil.

OPERATOR PROFILE

Irrigation in action on the plantation.

Above:

TFS uses pumps by Aussie Pumps to help water stretch as far as possible.

12 |

POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA

| JUNE - JULY 2016