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Forestry harvesting machine wins national innovation award

For immediate release

14 August 2012

Forestry harvesting machine wins national innovation award

A non-scientist has won a major forestry research award for his key role in developing a new harvesting machine designed to be safer and more productive on steep slopes.

Kerry Hill, Managing Director of Trinder Engineering Ltd, of Nelson, is one of five winners of the second annual Future Forests Research Awards, presented at a function in Rotorua on Tuesday 14 August.

Mr Hill was one of four nominees for the award for innovation that adds value to the forestry sector. The three judges cited Trinder Engineering’s joint development with Kelly Logging Ltd over the past three years of a winch-assisted steep slope feller-buncher machine. Innovations include a front mounted winch, rear mounted blade and integrated hydraulic control systems.

They said: “Kerry has also led the development of an advanced hauler vision system and initiated construction of a grapple camera system in July 2010 which is now commercially available. He has also collaborated with a Rotorua firm to fit the camera system to a new South African designed grapple carriage system and this is currently undergoing productivity trials.”

The FFR award for communication and sector engagement was won by Graham West, of Scion Crown Research Institute, Rotorua.

The judges said that Mr West, as Programme Manager of FFR’s Radiata Theme for the past five years, had set high standards for communicating research results and was able to communicate complex and often difficult science areas in an understandable way. At the same time he maintained a very thorough understanding of the underlying science.

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He had consistently ensured research was focused on industry needs and that research results were delivered in ways that could be applied by forestry managers and planners. “He does this with the enthusiasm and passion he has for forestry and ensuring research is adding value to the sector.”

He had championed further development of “Forecaster” as a planning and modelling tool for industry planners and managers that enables users to access latest research results when they are investigating the best forest management regimes and predicting future yields, their quality and value.

The FFR award for science of international quality was also won by a Scion researcher, Mark Riddell, for the development of a new method of assessing spiral grain in trees. Spiral, rather than straight, grain can affect the strength and uniformity of wood products.

The judges said Mark had looked at using laser-based approaches to measure spiral grain angle in wood before coming up with the idea to use transmitted light. The prototype system uses a converted flat-bed scanner and can provide information on spiral grain at much higher resolution. He and his colleagues also developed the algorithms to process the data from the scans to calculate the spiral grain angle.

“Already these new data are challenging some of our existing ideas about the patterns of spiral grain and the heritability of this trait.”

The methodology has been published in the IAWA journal and the approach was also presented at a recent conference in Portugal, where it sparked considerable interest. The method has the potential to become the gold standard for the measurement of spiral grain.

The fourth award, for research participation and uptake by a member of FFR, went to Mark Self, of Timberlands, Rotorua.

The judges said Mark participated fully in the Technical Steering Team and Member meetings for the Diversified Species Theme and was a keen supporter of evaluating species that may have potential in the future for forest owners.. Mark provided valuable insights and guidance on research, engaged fully with the scientists and supported trials.

“Due to Mark’s support and engagement with the researchers a number of important field trials have been established, including improved Cypress clones, improved progeny from Eucalyptus fastigata and Eucalyptus regnans breeding programmes, and Douglas fir progenies.”

They said Mark also constantly gave feedback on how the decision support tools used by the industry could be improved.

Long-time Scion researcher Charlie Low was awarded the prize for contribution to a science team.

He is the Task Leader for Cypress breeding and for genetic resources at Scion, and over more than 40 years has developed an outstanding level of knowledge on a range of exotic forestry species. He willingly shares his encyclopaedic knowledge of these species.

He has been responsible for overseeing the design and delivery of new cypress hybrids and the new cypress breeding and hybridizing orchards in the FFR Diversified Species Programme since its inception. There is growing industry interest in these new hybrids.

He is also the specialist on possible alternative commercial species such as Abies, Mexican Pines and more recently Pinus ayacahuite (Mexican White Pine). This species has some natural durability, and seed collections sown in the nursery that Charlie has overseen are currently oversubscribed.

He invariably delivers on time and to a very high standard.

FFR established the Future Forest Research Awards in 2011 to recognise the vital role that science and innovation play in the forestry sector and to acknowledge outstanding achievements by researchers and industry end users, FFR Chief Executive Russell Dale said.


Most large forestry industry companies and many mid-sized and smaller organisations are members of Future Forests Research Ltd, as are many regional councils and other authorities with interests in forestry-related environmental and social issues.

Forestry is a major contributor to New Zealand, with projected exports of $4.7 billion in 2012, direct employment of more than 17,600 people in forestry and first-stage processing, and significant environmental and social benefits.


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