12″ Morbark chipper

What with global warming and concern about releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, I’ve become increasingly hesitant to burn the brush that we generate in the process of creating the new orchard.  Also, increasing the level of organic matter in the soil is a key component of low-input agriculture, which suggests making use of the brush in a productive way.  So last Saturday we rented an 80 hp diesel wood chipper and went to town on the big windrow of slash that Joshua and I made last fall in clearing to the south of the orchard for sunlight.  The 12 inch chipper is a big, heavy machine; about as much as the Kubota tractor was able to move.  Alexis and my mom and dad all pitched in, along with a local fellow named Nick, and we made quick work of the pine and other assorted brush.  The machine has an imposing maw consisting of two big jagged steel infeed rollers, and the upper one articulates up and down to accept branches and even pieces of tree trunk up to the nameplate diameter.  The infeed rollers force the wood against a tremendous steel flywheel with cutters on the axial face, and the resulting chips are thrown with great force out a chute that can be rotated to the desired direction.  Working with the machine is a bit intimidating – there’s two big yellow cables inside the infeed chute that you’re supposed to grab and pull to reverse the feed direction if you get snagged on something that’s getting sucked into the cutters, but it’s hard not to think of that scene at the end of Fargo as arm-sized hunks of wood rapidly disappear into the chute.

When we finished with the brush on the ground, we felled the two remaining trees in the area between the orchard and the southerly stone wall, and fed the brush into the chipper to make another pile, and on the way out we felled a misshapen pasture pine by the upper cabin and fed its branches into the machine likewise.  In all we probably made over 10 cubic yards of chips, which can be used as mulch around trees and under fences, or perhaps mixed with manure and composted.

The expense of renting the big machine for a day and the hassle of transporting it (it needs to tow behind a 3/4 ton pickup or bigger) tends in the direction of marathon sessions, and by the end of the day I felt like I had been run over by several species of ungulates.  It’s tempting to think about getting one of these machines to have around, but the little ones that are more affordable are much less awesome than the big expensive ones, and we probably wouldn’t have enough use for a big one to justify it.  So probably we end up renting one every once in a while, and letting the brush pile up betweentimes.

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One Response to “12″ Morbark chipper”

  1. STEVE DRUMMEY Says:

    HEY BEN;
    WHAATTSSSS UUPPP

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