2 April 1997
Mr Lindsay Willis
13 Waters Street
PO Box 62
Wilco Spot Cultivator
To Whom it May Concern
Ernslaw One Limited is a forestry company based in Tapanui, West Otago (New Zealand).
For some time the company had a concern that our method of land preparation, which consisted of standard root-raking and windrowing logging slash, was not good enough. We knew that there had to be a better way to prepare clearfelled exotic logging areas for replanting.
We were already using a hydraulic excavator to carry out line-raking to remove slash which made the areas more accessible for planters, but our methods did nothing to assist in the establishment of new seedlings - we needed to cultivate the ground.
We knew that cultivation would provide all sorts of benefits like ease of planting, better survivals, better initial growth, etc. In June 1995 we commenced a preliminary investigation with regard to what was on the market what was available in cultivation equipment.
Sometime in late June or early July 1995 I saw an advertisment in a Forestry magazine showing what turned out to be a Wilco cultivator head. I could see that it was attached to an excavator boom, had very few moving parts and looked
like it may be bulletproof. I thought at the time it was so simple it had to work. Often the best inventions are the simple ones.
Anyway, I made contact with the manufacturer Lindsay Willis. He suggested I get on a plane and fly up to Rotorua and he would take me out to Southern Kaingaroa to see one working. I took his advice and in late July 95 Lindsay met me at the motel and took me out to watch a Cat320 excavator spot mounding.
The machine was working on what was basically flat block which previously was P.nigra (Corsican pine) and had been burnt. There wasn t much slash on the ground but there were plenty of stumps.
The excavator was making easy work of ripping and pulling up a planting mound in the pumice soil. It was working 3 rows at a time and obviously the speed and success of the operation was dependent on a good competent operator. But I was sure the technique could be learnt in a few days or so.
I was impressed with its simplicity, versatility and robust construction. I was fairly sure that it would work in our situation. It would allow us to carry out a number of different land preparation functions with the same tool.
We wanted to make sure that it was going to perform in our heavy soils. Lindsay agreed to load a head on his truck and travel down from Rotorua with Danny, one of his operators, without any strings attached. We would purchase a head if we were happy with its performance. So in early August 95 Lindsay arrived in Tapanui with the cultivator head.
We trialed it over 2 days on new development and cut-over logging areas scheduled for restocking. We spot cultivated an area which was very heavy fresh logging slash. It was difficult to calculate a price for the job because the logging residue was very heavy and the operator was going through a learning curve. Danny, Lindsay s operator, said that it would take 2 weeks for a new operator to come up to full production.
The spot cultivated area was completed by the last week in September and planted immediately after. The results in the trial area have been spectacular, with excellent survival and tree growth and the added benefit of not having to spot release spray.
The Wilco spot cultivator design has been modified since we purchased our own, with a rock ripping nose and large wings being added to the ripping pick. We changed our own and have found that the modifications provide more lateral shatter and allow the shovels on the head to form up a well clutivated mound more easily.
Since the purchase of the head, we have used it extensively. It is a very versatile piece of equipment which is well suited to the preparation of logged sites for replanting. It is well constructed which means minimal maintenance (very few moving parts.) It is very versatile in that a number of operations can be performed with the same unit, ie. Ripping, mounding, windrowing or combinations of these can be undertaken.
Many of our sites were planted with minor species in the early 1900s. We now have to bust up the root mat and cultivate the compacted or wet sites. We now have no trouble getting full stocking in areas where previously we didn t.
Another positive in the use of this piece of equipment is the price from our point of view, nothing comes close. It is relatively cheap when compared to other cultivators which do a similar job.
Other forestry companies have seen the light down our way and are now using the Wilco spot cultivator head.