Biomass harvesting refers to harvesting where more woody material is gathered than in a traditional sawtimber harvesting. Material down to four inches in diameter is harvested along with large trees for veneer logs and saw logs. Small trees and tops are chipped and used for paper pulp and boiler fuel.
During October of 2012, a biomass harvesting project was started by harvesting a 100 acre tract of hardwood timber at the Southeastern Purdue Ag Center (SEPAC). The tract was divided into several treatment areas demonstrating various forms of harvesting including traditional clearcutting, biomass harvesting, and areas left uncut. The goal of this project was twofold: to determine the volume and value of the products produced using biomass harvesting compared to the traditional methods, and to gain a more thorough understanding of what happens to a harvest site following biomass harvesting when restoration practices are used.
The harvest site has experienced a rapid recovery of new vegetation. Forbs, shrubs, tree seedlings, and sprouts densely covered the ground and began providing new wildlife habitats and the beginnings of a new diverse forest area.
The new Extension video “Woody Biomass Harvesting at Purdue University” explores this process in further depth, showing the harvest as well as the aftermath and regrowth. It also introduces a Purdue Extension – FNR developed web application called the Woody Biomass Calculator. This calculator can be used by landowners, foresters, and wood products harvesters and managers to estimate the volume and value of several different wood product groups and tree species, including woody biomass. Before harvesting, consider using this tool to evaluate if biomass harvesting is a better choice than traditional sawtimber harvesting for you.
Woody Biomass Harvesting at Purdue University – Studying the Advantage Over Traditional Harvesting – Purdue Extension
Woody Biomass Calculator – Purdue Extension – FNR
Harvesting Biomass: A Guide to Best Management Practices – IDNR Division of Forestry
Woody Biomass Feedstock for the Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industries – IDNR Division of Forestry
IN Wood Industry Facts – Purdue FNR Wood Research Laboratory
Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources