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.
Irrigation in action on the plantation.
TFS uses pumps by Aussie Pumps to help water stretch as far as possible.
POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA
| JUNE - JULY 2016