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Forest Planting Made Easier
August 29, 2015   
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A group of Polish engineers, led by Prof. Józef Walczyk from the Cracow University of Agriculture, has built a machine that makes it easier to plant young trees. The machine also significantly reduces the costs involved.

Tree seedlings are usually grown in pots before they are planted in the soil. Most tree species in Polish forests, both coniferous and deciduous, such as pine, spruce, larch, oak, beech, linden, and ash, are sown in spring and planted in the soil a year later. This time is needed for the seedling’s root system to grow strong enough.

A single nursery contains as many as 10 million seedlings. Moving them from the pots to the soil often takes weeks and a large number of forest workers working in shifts. It also happens that the seedlings are damaged in the process. The machine built by the Polish engineers makes the process more efficient and problem-free.

“The machine relies on a system of pins on which a cartridge with seedlings is mounted pneumatically,” says Walczyk. “Most often the cartridge contains 52 seedlings. All can be easily ejected at the same time.”

The Cracow engineers built the machine with the help of experts from the Merbet company of Bielsko-Biała, which produces styrofoam cartridges for seedlings. The university has filed for a patent and has sold a license to a company interested in manufacturing the machine.

Similar Italian machines for planting tree seedlings are available, but the Polish machine is lighter, smaller and helps avoid damage to seedlings with strongly developed roots. It costs zl.12,000, less than half the Italian versions, and is easily transportable.

“The machine can be used in any place in the forest because it can be powered by a generator,” says Walczyk.
Karolina Olszewska
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