This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Woody Biomass Production in the Southeastern United States




Chasuk, Luke

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


There is an increasing emphasis throughout the United States on renewable sources of energy. The shifting energy economy can create opportunities for loggers to play an important role in the renewable energy market. Loggers can seize this opportunity to increase their revenues while delivering a renewable energy feedstock to energy producers. To do so, loggers can harvest forest biomass in the form of small diameter trees, nonmerchantable stems, and forest residues. These woody materials can then be comminuted into wood chips which can be delivered to customers. However, there are costs associated with the harvesting and subsequent processing of biomass that loggers must consider, such as owning and operating a woodchipper. Three production studies were conducted on three on-site biomass chipping operations in the Southeastern United States to determine their production rates and costs. Time study and machine rate methods were implemented to conduct this analysis. Average productivity rates for felling, skidding, and chipping were 19, 37, and 74 tons per productive machine hour. Observed cut-and-load costs for the three operations ranged from $1.62 to $5.30 more per ton than comparable roundwood harvesting operations. The numbers produced by this study can be used as a reference for other market participants or potential market participants throughout the region.