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Author Topic: Firewood coppice vs charcoal coppice  (Read 6706 times)
charlieb
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« on: May 05, 2009, 04:07:12 PM »

My mind's whirring about possible things to do with land I may or may not end up manageing in the future.  I've been thinking for a while about growing firewood as efficiently as possible - basically planting ash in tractor-trailer spaced rows, so that at coppice time we can drive straight through and get nice-sized logs into trailer with minimal handling.   This is based on a vague idea that firewood will become increasingly valuable over the next 50 years, and that I'll have WWOOFERS/farm hands who'll need jobs to do in the winter when other farm work is scarce. 

And I've recently started thinking about planting coppice (hazel?) for charcoal for bbqs.  I read somewhere that imported charcoal can be bad'n'evil, so was wondering whether UK stuff will become more and more valuable in the future.   Can't find much info though. 

Neither of these two are very intensive or productive (in money/hectare) uses of land, but they would both be relatively low on human input, and enable me to mix it up with lots of other (timber, biodiversity and amenity) tree planting I want to do. And once coppice is established I could have pigs/chucks running around underneath if I'm growing food elsewhere..       Any thoughts on either of these? Or other suggestions that would enable me to plant up 50%+ of the land area.  (It's not good enough land for food production to be really attractive).
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dhaslam
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 04:30:36 PM »

One of the best enterprises involving trees is to grow trees for transplanting to gardens and for public spaces.   If the trees are spaced out well you could grow hay between the rows.    Pigs can be destructive to young trees, they ideally need mature forest.     
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charlieb
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 05:06:03 PM »

Yep, that's definitely another thought.  As is pot-grown and choose-your-own christmas trees.   And SRC of course, though I much prefer the idea of short rotation forestry.

I guess there'd be a balance between the benefit of pigs keeping the weeds down a bit and them munching the odd coppice tree. We'd coppice at an easy chainsaw height - maybe a 2 ft - so hopefuly coppice regrowth would be out of reach of the pigs. I'd not want to keep the pigs remotely intensively, so I figure they wouldn't do too much damage.
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Amy
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 05:39:54 PM »

Maybe companion plant with other species that coppice well like chestnut.

Look ahead and ask yourself what will be needed once peak oil hits us. Food and fuel.

Im also in thinking mode today and what started as a wasted day has been a godsend
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Justme
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 05:52:08 PM »

Charcoal making is very labour intensive.
Its worth less than 1 per kg unless you direct market it with a unique selling point
You need about 3kg of dry wood per 1 kg charcoal produced
Most charcoal makers now make more money from the course (& free labour) than the selling of the charcoal

Fire wood prices are rising but it is now cost effective to buy in ready to burn (dry, cut & split) from Europe by the truck load. Also the rising prices will mean that lots of others get "in to" the market & that lots of wood that is now chucked will be diverted for fuel.


Justme
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Taffyboy
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 06:54:15 PM »

If your near Oxford, I can show you a 10 acre, mixed wood that's been planted for 35 years but with very little maintenance. Recently was advised to coppice at 1.2 m to avoid deer damage.
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charlieb
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 09:31:54 AM »

Thanks Taffboy,
I'm in SE Scotland, though, so fair bit from Oxford. I'm intrigued what sort of damage a (roe?) deer is doing to 35 year old trees that's going to be worse for the final timber value than coppicing.

We've actually got plenty of wood on the place, Justme, but it's amazingly labour intensive to get it to a stove (we estimate it's handled up to ten times before the stove/fire - fell (or, more often, blow), strip, lengths stacked on site, logs cut, logs to trailer, trailer to shed, logs back to shed, logs split, logs stacked, logs to log basket, logs on fire).    My thinking is that if I have a decent sized area of coppice which is easy to deal with (ie thinner, straighter logs and easy access) and market it'll make selling the difficult windblow stuff as firewood that bit more attractive. I can't believe it'll be impossible to undercut anyone shipping in from the continent, especially as fuel prices increase.

Anyhow, I think I'll put the charcoal idea aside for now. 

C


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Justme
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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 11:53:51 AM »

it's amazingly labour intensive to get it to a stove (we estimate it's handled up to ten times before the stove/fire - fell (or, more often, blow), strip, lengths stacked on site, logs cut, logs to trailer, trailer to shed, logs back to shed, logs split, logs stacked, logs to log basket, logs on fire)

I can't believe it'll be impossible to undercut anyone shipping in from the continent, especially as fuel prices increase.

C

If your selling it you cut out the handling, labour is the biggest cost.
Cut down tree then use a processor to cut & split & feed it into bulk vented bags (not standard ones it will rot & or go mouldy). Handling then becomes a machines job to stack it to dry & then load the customers vehicle or your own. Doing it manualy means you are just earning a wage for your time not a profit from the actual firewood.

Dont understand how you think they cant do it cheaper in Europe for firewood, they are doing it for every thing else.

Justme
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charlieb
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 12:21:55 PM »

I see what you mean about doing everything else cheaper in Eastern Europe. But the transport costs must be (or should be) significant for something as bulky and heavy as firewood. Perhaps not for woodpellets, which are energy denser and easier to transport, but surely lugging tonne bags of wood by road isn't worth it.  Then again, you'd think shipping coals from Australia to the UK (and visa versa) wouldn't be worth it, but it's exactly what we do. 
I might try and do some work over the next few months, or maybe better in the Autumn when leaves are off and demand up, at a firewood processor. I definitely need to get some more hands on experience of the downstream side.
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Amy
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 01:01:41 PM »

Now yer tinkin Charlie boy, look fer the business thats got an angle to it. Somethin thats not run of the mill and has the unique sellin point.

Pardon the irish accent, ive just been to Ellesmere Port and borrowed the neighbours sat nav.

Danm ting had Father Ted as the narrator and ive picked up a bit of a lilt.  Jeez, and yous fellas say a woman can nag, well yas not heard a ting till youve got yerself a satnav.

Nagged me to death so it has  banghead
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Thank God for Charles Darwin. Another voice of sanity in this God forsaken world.
www.amy-artimis.blogspot.com/
Billy
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 03:22:05 PM »

Me thinks Father Ted might not be a bad option, I had to listen to a rather abrupt American woman drawling on, now that was bad.   vomit vomit2
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dhaslam
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 06:10:45 PM »

Mine has an American lady as well but at least she has a sense of humour.   I can be traveling  on a main road in the right direction and she can suddenly say to turn left or right up a narrow lane. If I  ignore her she just forgets all about it.
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DHW 250 litre cylinder  60 X 47mm tubes
Heating  180,000 litre straw insulated seasonal store, 90X58mm tubes + 7 sqm flat collectors, 1 kW VAWT, 3 kW heatpump plus Walltherm gasifying stove
Amy
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2009, 07:06:12 PM »

Now they tell me i could have changed the voice.

Maybe for an italian stalion who could teach me some romantic words.

Heya, bootiful Laydee, you makka de right turn si?
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Thank God for Charles Darwin. Another voice of sanity in this God forsaken world.
www.amy-artimis.blogspot.com/
Taffyboy
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2009, 08:00:16 PM »

You wouldn't have seen the screen for the medallion..
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Vermont Castings Vigilant with a 10 acre woodland...Cheap heat doesn't get better...

If it flies, floats or fornicates, rent it.
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