SA made Wuhlf mulcher put through its paces

November 2, 2023
The Wuhlf 960-2 wheeled mulcher is designed and manufactured in South Africa for African conditions.

The Wuhlf team put their big Wuhlf 960-2 wheeled mulcher through its paces at York’s Jessievale plantation in Mpumalanga in late October under close scrutiny from York’s forestry team as well as Brad Shuttleworth of Forestry Solutions, who was there to do a detailed productivity study to gauge its performance.

The Wuhlf 960-2 wheeled mulcher is a 276kW machine designed and manufactured by Pretoria-based Wuhlf Equipment. According to the Wuhlf team it compares favourably with any of the imported mulchers in terms of durability, reliability and productivity, with an additional advantage: It is designed and manufactured in SA specifically to suit conditions in Africa, so the purchase price is significantly cheaper than comparative imported machines while the spares, maintenance and technical skills required to keep it working productively are available on our doorstep. Electronics on the mulcher are kept to a minimum and there is no high-tech computer gadgetry requiring specialised skills to maintain. The machine can be repaired and serviced by any qualified hydraulic and diesel mechanics.

This compartment has been mulched clean after clear felling, and is ready for the planting operation to follow.

The Jessievale trials saw the mulcher clean up the stumps and slash left behind four months after clearfelling 20-25 year old Pinus patula grown for sawlogs. The slash conditions were ranked in three classes for purposes of the trial: Light slash; Medium; and Difficult (with big branches, stumps & high slash piles):-

Pass lengthLightMediumDifficult
100 m2.0 hrs/ha2.6 hrs/ha3.5 hrs/ha
200 m1.8 hrs/ha2.4 hrs/ha3.3 hrs/ha
300 m1.7 hrs/ha2.3 hrs/ha3.2 hrs/ha

Above is a quick snapshot of the time trial results. Note that the shorter the pass length the more time it takes to mulch a hectare due to the increased number of turns that the machine has to make. Also note that Brad said that the mulcher operator used in the trial was relatively inexperienced, and he would expect that a more experienced operator would improve productivity by 10-15%.

The Wuhlf mulcher busy mulching the post-harvest slash.

The aim of the mulching operation is to reduce the slash and stumps to a mulch blanket which covers the soil and protects it from erosion and moisture loss, while providing easy access for the pitting and planting operations to follow. Mulching also eliminates the need for a controlled burn of the slash which carries a fire risk and can damage the soil.

According to Wuhlf Sales Executive Grant Moodley, the 960-2 performed well at Jessievale and the York team were suitably impressed. It was trialled on compartments with light, medium and heavy slash to properly gauge its performance under different conditions.

Wuhlf started designing and building mulchers in 2013 and have a number of different machines in production including a T90 tracked mulcher for use in under-canopy mulching, a 930 (129 kW) medium size wheeled mulcher and the big 960-2 wheeled machine.

These stumps have been reduced to ground level.

The mulcher heads, canopies, hydraulic pipes and brackets etc are manufactured in-house, the Danfoss hydraulic pumps are sourced from a local manufacturer, while the chassis, wheels, gearbox, diffs and engine are imported. The machines are assembled in the Wuhlf manufacturing facility in Pretoria. The mulchers come with a 12 month/1 000 hours warranty, with more extended warranty options available.

The Wuhlf mulchers will be on show at the Focus on Forestry Conference taking place in Karkloof in the KZN midlands from 7-9 November, so go along to meet the team and see the mulchers in the flesh.

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