Forest Machinery or the Research Station of the University Forest Enterprise Masaryk Forest in Křtiny is an organizational part of Mendel University in Brno. They have more than seventy years of experience in research, development and introduction of forest machines into demanding forestry operations. Researchers as well as constructors are involved in the new forest machine concepts. Production is then carried out in their workshops and then everything is tested in practice – on a university forest enterprise. The machines are then certified and marketed. Thanks to their parameters and characteristics, they are also suitable for use in protected landscape areas and national parks.

Interview with Ing. Přemysl Veselý, Ph.D., Head of the Research Station at Forest Machinery.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Přemysl Veselý: The main activities of the Research Station UFE in Křtiny, MENDELU are development, production, sales and subsequent service of our machines for forestry. We mainly focus on machines for silvicultural activities and machines for timber concentration. In our offer we have machines for soil preparation, mechanized planting and sowing, machines for fence construction and we are preparing more machines for next year. In terms of machines for timber concentration, we are mainly dealing with forestry cable cars, but we also have one forestry winch in our offer. 

For strip soil preparation before afforestation, we produce disc soil cutters, namely TPF-1N for Universal Wheel Tractor, TPF-2 for LKT-81, TPF-2U for stronger agricultural tractors and TPF-2V for some forwarders. Due to their versatility, disc soil cutters can be applied and used in all terrains where there is a need for soil preparation before artificial or natural forest regeneration. The weight and energy consumption are much lower than foreign products, while the efficiency and usability are at least comparable. These are undoubtedly the reasons why, taking into account the quality of production, service and prices, there are almost 500 cutting units in operation to date, not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Finland, Russia and Canada.
For machine reforestation we produce the RZS-1 and RZS-2 versions of the reforestation machine. This machine, developed at our workplace, has been further developed and has been subjected to some design modifications, especially regarding the ergonomics of the operator’s workplace and the aggregation to tractors. The planting equipment itself has remained almost unchanged, as it is unique and, for the time being, unparalleled in the world. 

The FENCE-R is a device designed for the construction of (not only) forest fences. It is a machine carried in a rear three-point hitch that can vertically set and drive stakes (up to 2.5 m long) into the ground and unroll and tension the netting using an integrated hydraulically driven tray. The required distance between the stakes is controlled by a towed chain, which can be preset to the desired length of the stake spacing. The netting is then nailed to the stakes using an electric or pneumatic stapler. An additional feature that increases the working comfort of the operator is a tray for up to 30 stakes and one spool of wire netting. The entire tray can be clamped to the front three-point hitch or front loader. In terms of functionality and durability of the fencing, the machine can be retrofitted with a plough to create a furrow and consequently insert the fencing into the soil and then cover the fencing with the stripped part, which prevents it from being eaten by animals.

As for the main line of our activities with forest cableways, we currently offer several types of Larix mast cableways with mechanical and hydrostatic drives that have many variations according to the customer’s needs, pulled behind the tractor, trailer or truck – Larix Kombi H, Larix 3T, Larix Lamako, Larix H3-650.

Of course, all of our cableways have radio controls and target automation, training in customer service and operational spares. As a complement to our range of products, we offer a Mountain Harvester and powerful yarders as well as carriages from the Austrian firms of MM Forsttechnik (Syncrofalke Cableways, MM Sherpa carriages) and Koller Forsttechnik. Our forest cableways you can find in operation not only in our country and the Slovak Republic but also in Hungary, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Spain and Colombia. Private entrepreneurs work with LARIX Cableways in France, Germany and Austria. Manufacturing cableways automatically entails the production and sale of tools and equipment, such as carriages, direction 

E.E: What’s the news about new products? / What are the most innovative products marketed?

P.V: Among the new products, last year we launched the FENCE-R machine for fencing construction, where we combined the distribution of stakes on the area, hammering of stakes, unwinding and tensioning of netting, creation of a furrow for netting and nailing of netting to stakes in one pass with a tractor. 

This year we are planning to launch a seeder in conjunction with a front disc soil cutter. Seeds are sown here from three hoppers and it is therefore possible to sow up to 3 types of seeds simultaneously in one furrow. Each drilling unit is capable of planting a seed spacing of 0.1 – 4 m. These seeds are sown by the seed drill to a depth of approx. 3 cm and covered with soil.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

P.V: Considering forestry cableways, we mainly produce easily repairable mechanical forestry cableways that are suitable for the most difficult terrain. The range of route lengths is from 100 to 600 m and the pulling force is 2-3 t.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

P.V: The market is currently in the phase of investment in cultivation technology. In the Czech Republic, large areas that had to be cleared after bark beetle infestation now need to be replanted. On the other hand, we are seeing lower demand for harvesting machinery as the market is already saturated in this respect and only a small amount of renewal of existing harvesting machinery is taking place.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

P.V: In the Czech Republic, there has been a long-standing trend of a lack of manpower and appreciation of people in the forestry sector. Therefore, great emphasis is placed on maximising mechanised activities and the associated job savings. This is exactly what the sale of harvesting technologies and efficient silvicultural machines in the forestry sector is conducive to.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2023?

P.V: Regarding sales for 2023, we plan to sell about 50 machines for silviculture and 3 forest cableways. In terms of new machine development, we plan to launch 2 new machines.