Arboriculture sector showcased at ARB Show

The Arboricultural Association's ARB Show took place once again at the Forestry Commission's Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire on 3-4 June, with 85 exhibitors from across the arboriculture industry. It attracted 3,400 visitors - five per cent up on last year.

ARB Show: 85 exhibitors attended annual event at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire earlier this month - image: HW
ARB Show: 85 exhibitors attended annual event at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire earlier this month - image: HW

Bartlett Tree Experts used the show to launch a new version of Arborcheck, a tool to measure leaf fluorescence and chlorophyll content, made by Hansatech Instruments of Norfolk.

Bartlett plant diagnostician Jon Banks explained: "You could measure these before but what do you do with that reading? With this you can compare with that from a healthy specimen. We have worked with Birmingham council - they have a huge database of their trees - so you can compare the vitality of, say, a Birmingham ash with a wild ash."

Barcham Trees is already using Arborcheck to guarantee that trees leaving the nursery are healthy, added Banks. "For us it means we can say 'this tree is dead or dying'. In fact, it has already been used in court."

On the Bartlett diagnostic lab, which he runs, Banks said: "It was in internal service for the company that we are now opening up for general pest and disease identification and soil analysis for arboriculturists and consultants."

Meanwhile, Bartlett is keen to press on with the use of drones in tree diagnostics, he added. "You need to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority and we received our licence in February. You can't use images from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) unless you are licensed. We have had to be careful. We are now looking at using them in consultancy, particularly rapid tree surveys. We can't use them in congested areas like central London as we'd originally hoped, for example to assess trees with possible Massaria (a disease of London planes) that would be difficult to climb."

On the kit side, Vermeer UK demonstrated its new BC190XL chipper. Sales manager Paul Antrobus said: "We have just got back into this market and the 8in size is one of the most popular." The 48hp Kubota engine puts it "top of its class", he said, while with offset rollers "it's easier to feed - you don't get a 'kick' from the material".

Competing with this, Timberwolf also presented a new 8in chipper, the UK-manufactured TW280TDHB. A more powerful sibling of its TW190, the feed aperture is 15 per cent bigger than others in its class, while the footprint has been made wider for added stability.

Silky Fox presented a new longer 480mm blade attachment for its Hayauchi pole saw, which comes with a new scabbard, blade fixing pipe and detachable lower sickle for undercutting bark.

Stobart Biomass Products gave an insight into the biomass market for arboricultural contractors and other producers of waste wood. "There is scope for more arboricultural arisings from the arboriculture sector if quality expectations can be met," said Stobart Biomass Products commercial manager Neil Maplesden.

The company claims to be the UK's largest biomass supplier, with a current demand for 1.2 million tonnes per year. This consists of approximately 500,000 tonnes of arboricultural and forestry residue. The group intends to nearly double its supply of biomass material to two million tonnes a year by 2018, according to its annual report published earlier this month.

"The increased requirement on tonnage is greater on recycled wood - old kitchens, furniture, construction waste, pallets - than arb," said Maplesden. "Arboriculturists know the biomass market is there and some areas are stronger than others. Although we work nationwide, it seems there is surplus supply of arb in the south due to the change in biomass demands currently.

"We feel a small proportion of arb arisings go to other uses plus the fact there is a percentage of material that doesn't meet our biomass grade so we don't see everything that's there. In order to supply biomass they may need a yard big enough for an articulated lorry and the means of loading."

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