FORESTRY EQUIPMENT ROUND-UP

The AFGFRI team at the opening of their new branch in Tzaneen.

AFGRI gets into forestry equipment
AFGRI Equipment Construction and Forestry has opened a new branch in Tzaneen, Limpopo province, South Africa. The new branch is equipped to offer a wide range of forestry and agriculture equipment including John Deere harvesters and skidders, Waratah heads, ProMac three-wheel loaders, Dipperfox stump crushers, PALMS trailers as well as big brand construction and agriculture equipment.

AFGRI Equipment has appointed Pieter Bosch as the dedicated forestry marketer for South Africa. Pieter will be based in Tzaneen, overseeing the company's forestry portfolio. His extensive knowledge and expertise will be of great benefit to customers, as well as the AFGRI Equipment team.

Beyond forestry, the branch in Tzaneen also caters to the residential and commercial services sector, construction and agriculture industries by providing the comprehensive John Deere equipment range and AFGRI Equipment services.

AFGRI is a supplier of John Deere forestry and agriculture equipment in SA.

According to AFGRI’s marketing manager, Etienne Meyer, it made perfect sense for AFGRI to take on the supply and backup for John Deere’s forestry equipment in South Africa as there is a 60% parts overlap between John Deere’s agriculture and forestry equipment.

“We know machines, and we know how to keep them running,” commented Etienne.

AFGRI has a big footprint in South Africa with 25 equipment supply and maintenance branches around the country plus 42 retail outlets. Specialised AFGRI forestry equipment hubs are located at Middelburg, Piet Retief and now also Tzaneen.

Contact the AFGRI Tzaneen branch on 071 647 6384 to schedule an appointment or discuss your equipment needs.

Ponsse goes electric
Ponsse has unveiled its new technology concept Ponsse EV1 forwarder. Its fully electric platform is one important step on Ponsse’s journey towards zero-emissions harvesting.

The next step on Ponsse’s radar is to switch to fossil-free steel for the manufacture of their forestry machines.

Ponsse’s EV1 electric forwarder.

To this end Ponsse has joined forces with SSAB, a Nordic and US-based steel company, who will deliver fossil-free steel to the Ponsse factory in Finland, starting in 2026.

This partnership will further solidify Ponsse’s position as a provider of sustainable forest machines and bring SSAB closer to its goal of establishing a fossil-free value chain.

“It’s great to have a reliable partner like Ponsse now joining our fossil-free journey,” said Lotta Ruottinen, Sales Director at SSAB Europe. “Joint efforts are needed to meet the challenging CO2 reduction targets in forest machines. Both companies prioritize sustainable solutions and will strive to make a positive impact on forest machines using SSAB Fossil-free™ steel, fostering innovation while respecting nature.

SSAB plans to revolutionize the entire steelmaking process, and aims to start delivering fossil-free steel to the market at a commercial scale in 2026 and to largely eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from their operations in around 2030. SSAB works with iron ore producer LKAB and energy company Vattenfall as part of the HYBRIT initiative to develop a value chain for fossil-free iron and steelmaking, replacing the coking coal traditionally used for iron ore-based steelmaking with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. This process virtually eliminates carbon dioxide-emissions in steel production.

Ponsse has also unveiled their latest models of the PONSSE Scorpion Giant harvester, the PONSSE Mammoth forwarder and the PONSSE H8 harvester head.

Ponsse forestry equipment is distributed and supported in South Africa by MTS Parts, Piet Retief.

Mechanical tree pruner
Green Projects, based in Lions River in the heart of KZN midlands forestry country, supplies and supports an interesting array of forestry equipment including Logset heads, Stihl saw chains and bars, ProMac cane and forestry loaders, Nokian tyres and Advaligno Patas tree pruners, manufactured in Germany.

ProMac loaders, designed and manufactured in SA.

The ProMac loaders, designed and manufactured in Richards Bay, are popping up all over the place providing stiff competition to the well known Bell loggers. Frank Uzzell of Green Projects reckons they are powerful and efficient machines, and as an experienced forestry equipment fundi he should know.

Green Projects also supplies and supports Logset equipment, manufactured in Finland. The Logset heads are versatile and efficient, and are highly effective tools attached to an excavator or purpose-built harvester.

Frank Uzzell (left) of Green Projects and forestry contractor Justin Lorenz trialling the Logset head in KZN.

The Advaligno Patas is a mechanical tree pruner operated by two people and powered by a tractor. It is attached to the base of a tree, and delimbs it cleanly in seconds. Very useful tool for delimbing pine or Eucalyptus. It can prune up to 15 meters, and in an ideal plantation site can do up to 100 trees in an hour, or so the manufacturers claim.

Frank also supplies an innovative anti-theft device that prevents fuel theft from any vehicle or piece of equipment.

See the tree pruner in action here:

Contact Frank for more info: 082 820 5701.

Chop-em tree fellers goes green
Green is the colour of choice for Chop-em Tree Fellers of Benoni who recently purchased a brand new Sumitomo excavator from ELB Equipment, and promptly had it painted bright green.

Rather than the ordinary yellow finish on most excavators, Chop-em Tree Fellers owner, David Kretzschmar wants his equipment to be easily recognisable in the field as belonging to the specialist arborist business.

Chop-em Tree Fellers’ stylish new excavator.

Having grown up in a tree felling and bush clearing family, David’s first recollections are of riding and sleeping in various types of plant equipment and trucks while his father went about his business. As a result, there is little that he does not know about plant equipment and along with his brothers Malcolm and Karl, can operate any type of machine.

And contrary to popular belief, arborists like David usually do their utmost to save valuable trees through careful pruning, tying, root containment and supporting trees with cables and other techniques, rather than chopping them down. They usually discuss options with customers and try to preserve them - especially indigenous trees. Only as a last resort or if trees are invader species will the axe – or rather the excavator - be brought out.

The Kretzschmar brothers are now planning to ‘green’ their entire fleet of excavators, stump grinders, trucks and saws.

Ponsse's 19,000th forest machine delivered

The 19 000th forest machine to roll off the Ponsse factory floor will be put to work clearing windblow in the Scottish woods.

The Ponsse factory in Vieremä, Finland, has delivered its 19,000th Ponsse forest machine to Scottish-based customer Elliot Henderson Ltd. The Ponsse Scorpion Giant harvester with H8 harvester head will work at logging sites in the Scottish Borders and Lowlands forests.

Elliot Henderson Ltd is based in Selkirk in Scotland. The company was established more than 35 years ago, planting trees by hand with a small team. Over the years, the business has grown and diversified into forestry, construction, and scaffolding. Today, Elliot Henderson Ltd owns more than 40 forest machines which can undertake clear fell, thinning, steep ground harvesting operations, ground preparation or the construction of forest roads. They also do site brash clearance, stump removal and servicing of the biomass industry.

With Elliot Henderson Ltd being a long-standing customer for well over 20 years, it’s a fitting tribute to the relationship between the customer and manufacturer that the landmark 19,000th machine is joining their fleet.

“Elliot Henderson Ltd has always been at the forefront of new machine releases over the years, which in turn keeps the harvesting fleet productive and at the vanguard of innovation,” says Neil Purves, Director of Harvesting for the Elliot Henderson Group. “We are excited to be adding this Scorpion Giant to the fleet. This machine will go straight to work in the windblow resulting from Storm Arwen and we feel the extra power and H8 head will benefit us in this application. We look forward to seeing what it can do! We are currently running PONSSE Scorpion, Ergo, three Elephants and one Buffalo,” he said.

The PONSSE Scorpion Giant is a versatile harvester designed for working in demanding conditions. It can be equipped with either the H8 harvester head or with any of Ponsse’s smaller harvester heads.

Find out more at www.ponsse.com

Solutions for thinnings

Growing a productive forest requires hard work and commitment. Correctly timed thinning improves the forest’s growth conditions and makes trees grow sturdier more quickly. Thinning supports forest biodiversity when part of the forest is always in the growth phase.

“Thinning can also be called improvement felling, as it ensures the productivity of the forest, and the high quality and health of trees,” says Tuomo Moilanen, forest specialist at Ponsse. “The better a forest grows, the better it sequesters carbon. Thinning ensures that trees can be processed into high-quality products that sequester carbon for dozens or even hundreds of years,” says Moilanen.

In cut-to-length (CTL) harvesting, trees are already processed up to the intended length in the forest, enabling thinning to be ecological. When the harvester operator plans trails so that they can also be driven by the forwarder, trees can be both felled and transported without needing to move around unnecessarily in the forest.

“At thinning sites, the distance between trails is roughly 20 metres, and trees remaining by the side of the trail will grow in Finnish conditions 20–25 % more quickly, because they will have room to grow, both above and below,” Moilanen says.

Most premium forestry equipment manufacturers have machines designed to handle thinning operations in different conditions. One of these is the Finnish-based Ponsse. These machines are distributed and supported in South Africa by MTS Parts, based in Piet Retief in Mpumalanga.

The six-wheeled PONSSE Beaver and the eight-wheeled PONSSE Fox are ideal solutions for first thinning. PONSSE Fox is an excellent choice, especially when operating in soft terrain. High-flotation tracks should be selected as optional equipment for softer terrain to prevent surface damage.

At heavier thinning sites, the PONSSE Cobra and Scorpion harvesters, combined with the H5 or H6 harvester head, are the best choices in terms of productivity. In PONSSE Scorpion, the unobstructed visibility in all directions, together with cabin and crane levelling, makes working smooth even at dense thinning sites. As eight-wheeler machines, both models are also excellent in soft terrain.

While Elk and Wisent are the most popular PONSSE forwarders for thinning sites, Buffalo is also a good choice, especially when distances are longer, and the aim is to improve productivity. The forwarder can easily pick up trees from thinning sites when trails are properly protected (with branches) and as straight as possible; the fewer sharp bends there are, the less surface damage is caused.  

At thinning sites, the harvester head should be selected according to the dominant tree species. However, it should be considered that damaged trees and other trees in poor condition must also be removed from thinning sites, calling for sawing and feed force from the harvester head. The harvester head must be reliable at thinning sites because a large number of trees are produced quickly during each shift.      

At thinning sites, much rests on the forest machine operator – the operator decides what trees are removed and what are left standing. The forest owner hands over their assets to a professional forest machine operator to receive the highest possible profit, also in the future.

During September Ponsse organized an online event where customers and specialists explained more about solutions for thinning sites.

Watch the web event here...

Ponsse on steep slopes


Ponsse’s cut-to-length forest machines have proved to be excellent harvesting solutions on steep slopes. Environmentally friendly and safe harvesting solutions for slopes are in high demand, especially when harvesting takes place in areas with varying terrain and steepness.

“Our solutions are always based on our customers’ needs, and our forest machines designed for steep slopes are no exception. We test and develop them together with our customers in truly demanding conditions, for example, in China, Brazil, North America and in Central Europe,” says Marko Mattila, Sales, Service and Marketing Director at Ponsse. “We have invested in the testing and research equipment required for the development of slope harvesting solutions at our Vieremä factory, and we have even built an artificial slope for testing and studying in detail how our products operate in slope conditions.”

PONSSE Synchrowinch is one of the most important optional equipment required for cut-to-length (CTL) forest machines when working on steep slopes. It helps the forest machine remain highly productive in an environmentally friendly and safe way compared to alternative manual methods also in demanding conditions. Working on slopes is no novelty globally but, as the environmentally friendly cut-to-length logging method is becoming more common, it will develop in a safer and more effective direction, minimising any damage to the terrain.

Ponsse’s solutions for working on slopes
• Eight-wheeled harvesters and forwarders, combined with balanced bogies, offer tractive force, stability and comfort for the operator.
• Engines, brakes and tanks developed for slope conditions.
• PONSSE Synchrowinch and other options designed for working on slopes.
• Efficiency and productivity of cut-to-length (CTL) forest machines – no need to pull cables or wires manually.
• Smooth working – by using the winch, the machine can be moved smoothly, even in demanding locations

PONSSE Synchrowinch is available for PONSSE Cobra, Ergo 8W and Bear harvesters and Buffalo, Bison, Elephant and Elephant King forwarders. The winch is optional equipment installed in forest machines during the installation stage.

For more info visit www.ponsse.com.

Elk harvesting in Lapland

The 17 000th PONSSE forest machine has rolled off the production line at the company’s manufacturing facility at Vieremä in Finland. The milestone machine, a PONSSE Elk built in mid-August, will start its career in the sure hands of Finnish Lapland harvesting contractor Kuusmoto Oy. 

"It is a special privilege to hand over the 17 000th PONSSE machine to Kuusmoto Oy. I wish to thank Kuusmoto for their trust and fantastic cooperation as we continue our journey together," said Sales, Service and Marketing Director Marko Mattila.

Founded in 2014 and hailing from Posio in Finland, Kuusmoto Oy currently employs 17 people. They operate in seven municipalities in Finnish Lapland. The company has a total of nine PONSSE machines.
"We are happy to receive this excellent machine and its plaque. Our current plan is to put the birthday boy to work in Posio or Ranua. It will be a fine addition to our fleet," says Tomi Kuusela, managing director of Kuusmoto Oy.

The PONSSE Elk is an economical but powerful workhorse for thinning-oriented harvesting. Its compact design makes the Elk very agile, while its components, shared with larger machines, make it a powerful and durable tool with a first-rate load carrying capacity. The responsive engine, impressive torque and sturdy loader make working comfortable, especially when the operator can enjoy the most spacious cabin on the market, including ergonomic controls.

Introduced into production in 2005, Ponsse has manufactured a total of 947 PONSSE Elk forwarders and delivered them to over 20 countries.

Ponsse's 17,000th forest machine was built to completion at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the global challenges in component availability and delivery.

Ponsse launches toughened up eucalyptus head


Ponsse has launched its latest debarking head – the H7 HD Euca – which follows the release of the Ponsse H8 HD Euca. This new powerful harvester head joins an impressive line-up of harvester heads manufactured by Ponsse of Finland.

One of these new H7 HD Euca heads has already been delivered to a leading South African harvesting contractor, Quinton Preen, for use in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

The Ponsse design engineers said they rely heavily on feedback from key customers to design and manufacture heads that maximise productivity and minimise downtime, and this is the case with the Ponsse H7 HD Euca.

Quinton featured prominently in the recent ‘digital’ launch of the head. He was being interviewed by Chris Odendaal of MTS Parts, who is distributing and supporting all Ponsse forestry equipment in South Africa.
Quinton joined his father’s harvesting contracting business in the 1990s, which was originally doing motor-manual felling and debarking. Quinton says they started mechanising their harvesting operations in 2000, and are now working extensively in the Midlands and Zululand coastal areas.

Two years ago they switched to the H7 Euca heads in order to do one-pass harvesting as required by Mondi Forests. Quinton says the H7 Euca was a smaller head and at first he was a bit concerned about its durability. But now two years later he says they are running well and he had no hesitation in acquiring the upgraded H7 HD Euca, which is a toughened, upgraded version of the H7 Euca.

A year ago Quinton said he changed to the casted knife sets on the H7s as they wear better – especially in Zululand where the sandy soils take their toll on harvesting equipment.

“The majority of our inland customers prefer the welded knives in one-pass operations, but in coastal regions where there is a lot of sand with abrasive properties, the special material used in the casted knives is a better option,” said MTS Parts’ Chris Odendaal. “They last an incredibly long time in very tough conditions.  

“The H7 HD is really a toughened up head and you can appreciate how sturdy it is built just by looking at it. The engineering was really thought out very well on this head,” said Chris.

He said the upgrades on the H7 HD include a toughened saw box, extra tilt frame support, and a new, heavy duty bearing design.

Other small improvements include the fixed knife pins and other components that have been strengthened.  

“Overall we are looking at a head that will be very durable in tough conditions, giving our customers more mechanical availability and that is what our market needs at the moment. These HD heads have been tested extensively in Brazil and we've had nothing but positive feedback,” said Chris.

The Ponsse heads are known to be fast and agile, and Chris says they put very little stress on the carrier machine.

Commented Janne Loponen, harvester head product manager at Ponsse: “This new harvester head has been developed together with our customers, based on their feedback. We wanted to introduce an even more powerful and productive harvester head for Eucalyptus processing that withstands even the most extreme conditions, and we succeeded in this with the H7 HD Euca harvester head.”

It can be fitted onto the Ponsse Cobra, Scorpion King and Ergo harvesters, but it can also be installed on 16–22-ton track-based excavators.

The geometry and technical solutions of the new harvester head have been made to ensure maximum efficiency during debarking, feeding and sawing. The development of the harvester head has also focused on mechanical durability and the ease of maintenance.

Automated functions control saw movements according to the tree diameter and saw bar position, and allow trees to be cut quickly.

Janne said that all Ponsse heads have simple and solid structures which is why they can be used in various harvesting applications, ranging from harvesters to track-based solutions.

All Ponsse harvester heads are manufactured and designed at the Ponsse factory in Vieremä, Finland.
Ponsse equipment is distributed and fully supported in South Africa by MTS Parts, with branches in Piet Retief and Nelspruit/Mbombela.

For more info, visit www.mtsparts.co.za