April/May 2020

Page 88

EQ C O N S E R V I N G T H E L A N D

LOVING YOUR LAND A unique and environmental way to CLEAR LAND AND TRAILS. BY C.W.MEDINGER

In the area around Vermont’s Green Mountain Horse Association, the local horse world is excited by a new addition, Geoffrey Wiswell of Beech Hill Vegetation, who brings unique methods to clear land and trails. To share these possibilities for landowners in other areas, Equestrian Living spoke with Wiswell about his process and equipment. What is unique about what you do compared to other services?

Most landscape services use chippers, which are trailer-mounted. The workers have to bring the brush to the machine to be chipped and then hauled away. My machine, a Lamtrac 6125, is a mobile chipper otherwise known as a forestry mulcher. The difference is, I drive to the debris, which I cut, chop, and chip in place, basically creating wood-chip trails as I drive. Mulchers help operators remove underbrush, trees, and other vegetation, including invasive species. A chief benefit of using any style of mulcher is that it replaces several other machines and eliminates the need to haul away or burn cleared growth. Instead, chopped up mulch is returned to the ecosystem for rapid and natural decomposition. Using mulchers can greatly reduce manpower and equipment requirements while generating significant savings in cost and time. Moreover, in many areas, operators can use mulchers year-round, not just the growth seasons. Are most landowners unaware that such a process exists?

Yes. When they first hear of it, I’m 88 | E Q UE S T R I A N L I V I N G | AP RI L / MAY | 2020

usually asked if it is a “brush hog” or “flail mower.” It’s neither. A forestry mulcher is unique as it can either be used on an excavator with a forestry mulching-head or on a dedicated forestry tractor with a forestry mulching-head. The mulching-head is unique in that it is basically a large drum, which spins at a high rate of speed and has carbide teeth or knives mounted to it. In either case, the tool makes quick work of invasive species, trees, vines, and stumps. What are some things landowners can do to enhance their properties?

Pasture Restoration: With pasture restoration, the main emphasis is to eradicate invasive species. Examples are poplar trees that easily creep into fields, pastures, and timbered woodlots. There are also other harmful trees such as wild cherry, whose leaves contain a type of cyanide that can be lethal if too many are eaten by horses or livestock. You would want to get all wild cherry trees out of your pastures as soon as possible. Doing it in the late fall or winter when the leaves are gone is best, but mulching can be done at any time as long as horses and livestock do not have access to the fields that I’m working in. Landowners may want to to enlarge their pasture. A forestry mulcher removes brush, trees, and brambles, and leaves a nice dense mulch on the ground, which naturally breaks down quickly in the environment. Stumps can be an issue too. Depending on the size, my machinery makes quick work of dead tree stumps. continued on page 90