Pruning harvesting with modular towed chipper: Little effect of the machine setting and configuration on performance despite strong impact on wood chip quality

PLoS One. 2021 Dec 31;16(12):e0261810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261810. eCollection 2021.


Pruning residues can have a high quality as feedstock for energy purposes and are largely available in Europe. However, it is still an untapped resource. Such scarce use is due to the need to optimize their supply chain in term of collection machines and the associate cost of collection. A modular chipper (prototype PC50) for pruning harvest was developed. Such prototype is adaptable to various harvesting logistics and may produce a higher quality woodchip compared with the one produced by shredders available in the market. In this work, we tested the performance and quality of the product delivered by the prototype PC50 in various conditions and plant species, after a modulation of the machine settings (counter-rotating toothed rollers [CRR] speed), loading systems ([LS], either big bag or container), and knife types ([KT], either discontinuous hoe shaped knives or continuous helicoidal knives). To take into account of the covariates in the experiment (Cropping season and plant species), LSmeans were computed to have an unbiased estimate of the treatments means. The modulation of LS and KT scarcely affected the performance of the machine. In particular, the choice of the KT affected the field efficiency when the LS was a Tilting box but not a Big Bag. Whereas the continuous knife resulted in a 97% higher material capacity compared to hoe shape knives, the last of which the amount of short sized (<16 mm) fractions compared to helicoidal knives. No role of the CCR was found on the machine performance, but increasing CRR speed reduced the chip apparent bulk density and the fraction chips with a size <8 mm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture* / methods
  • Europe
  • Wood*

Grant support

This study has been produced with the data collected during the EuroPruning project (Development and implementation of a new and non-existent logistics chain for biomass from pruning); and the European Horizon 2020 project Magic (grant number 727698). The ideas expressed do not represent either those of the European Commission or the Italian Ministry of Agriculture (MiPAAF).