Stump and branch dump --- This one takes some space and would seldom work in suburbia.
Quite often when land is cleared, tree stumps are dug up with an excavator. They are heaved into dump trucks or bins for disposal. Most in my area are run through a grinder. All of my stump ideas involve smaller machinery and more labor.
The amount you can charge will vary by location.
1. Hugelkultur. Most species will not spring to life and take over the beds. Questionable specimens can spend a year in the sun on the edge of the processing area. Stumps should form the base only. Lots of bark and smaller wood mixed with soil form the growing area.
2. Charcoal/Biochar production. I have always favored businesses where I'm paid to take away things that I later sell. In this case, the feedstock shows up at your door. A large retort and a farm tractor are needed. The wood gas from a large unit could supply most energy needs for a farm.
3. Cut the best stumps into big slices for table tops, benches and to make burl blocks for wood turners. This requires a power washer, a front end loader, chainsaw and maybe a large bandsaw. A kiln is required to slowly bring the moisture down without cracking. Items that crack are sawn into turning and carving blocks. Certain species are desirable. In my area, maple, alder, cedar, Pacific madrona and fruit wood are wanted. The very common Douglas fir is very tough to process and not in demand for artsy stuff.
4. Mushroom production --- Shitake can grow on a variety of woods. I have a muddy area where I'd like to lay 100 or so stumps for this purpose. Once the mushrooms stop fruiting the excavator could dump them on new hugelkultur beds and a new batch could be placed.
Byproducts --- Rocks --- Large rocks have value to landscapeers and wall builders. A few big ones at a building site are often seen as a liability and they are sometimes sent with the stumps.
When stumps are cleaned for milling or burning, large amounts of soil and rock will be power washed off. I need soil. Small rocks can be added to the million tons already preset. A jaw crusher could be brought in occasionally to reduce the rock to useful gravel. Everything else goes to hugelkultur. A big screen combined with the front end loader sorts out the larger rocks.
In order to prevent damage to dump boxes, some machine guys dump a couple buckets of soil into each truck before loading rock and stumps. Chipping facilities don't like this. I will encourage it when the materials come from river bottom land with nice black soil.
Lumpy logs like this one are often tossed aside. Many restaurants are using big slab tables. If this log were milled where it falls, into slabs 3" thick, by 5 ft. long, the heaviest ones would be around 400 lb wet. Still pretty heavy, but one man could handle the slabs using a pickup truck with a hydraulic hand pumped crane. A tractor with forks would load slabs into the kiln. Someone gave me an Alaska mill several years back. I need to find it.
Good idea as usual, Dale!
For char, a retort might be a major hassle. A friend of mine is using what he calls a ring of fire to make char, though he isn't using stumps. A metal ring (his is five foot diameter and a couple feet high.) build a fire in it, and feed till you have a big pile of embers. This can be put out with a remarkably small amount of water -- he is using a backpack sprayer to do that. With a stump I'd do a small fire on top of the stump, make sure the ring is taller than the stump(s). Keep building that fire outward till the ring is full of fire and then till the top of the stump has dropped some. If it turns out you haven't burned the stump all the way through, use what's left for hugel base any way. It will partially rot, and the rest will become biochar over a very long period. That's the plan for the movable stumps on my place, anyway.
Somebody cue up Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Don't forget the marshmallows and hot dogs!
Intermountain (Cascades and Coast range) oak savannah, 550 - 600 ft elevation. USDA zone 7a. Arid summers, soggy winters
About 80% of the total energy in highly pyrolized charcoal, had been lost to the wood gas. For me, this gas is more valuable than is the finished product. I'm looking at stumps as feedstock for a gas system that heats a greenhouse, hot tub, pottery kiln, lumber drying kiln and domestic hot water. A retort is called for. I like the idea of being paid to accomplish these tasks. In charging for stump disposal and selling charcoal, I've devised two ways to get paid for feeding the wood burner.
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