Today the work of land clearing (of forests) is done efficiently and in minimal time using heavy machines instead of the earlier used hand tools. This has enabled to convert forest regions into productive agricultural practice on smooth land based nearby to the populated places.
Each land clearing or improvement project has its own characteristics. It cannot be achieved by using just a single object but encompasses a variety of tools and heavy machines. Hence, first and foremost the Land Survey is required to gauge the amount of land improvement required. The following major factors should be considered; the characteristics of the land and its size, the intended use of the land, the type of the material to be removed and the cost involved. Appropriate planning and attention to detail will help to protect water and soil resources while keeping the costs to minimum.
The work of clearing can be divided into three phases as light, intermediate and heavy clearing and each of this will require different type of equipment. Light clearing involves surface cutting, undercutting, heavy disking, chemical sprays (herbicides), and controlled burning. Surface cutting is achieved by using heavy duty sickle mowers, large rotary brush cutters and stalk cutters. While undercutting is accomplished by using different type of straight and V-shaped blades mounted on tractors and can travel 10-18 inches below the soil surface which loosens and removes the roots. Heavy disks or root rakes are used to cut and remove the material to prepare land for cultivation. Finally the land is sprayed with herbicides and subjected to burning.
Heavy clearing is done using different types of expensive heavy equipment each of which require different amount of horse-powers to operate. Skidders, Bulldozers, Excavators, Tractors and Backhoe are used for land clearing. Skidders are very stable and are considered to be a great tool. However, a skidder cannot dig or grade and a person has to get out of the machine to grab onto the debris. Bulldozers are powerful machines and can effectively remove the stumps and boulders. However, bulldozers generate vibrations and run into maintenance problems. The replacement parts of a bulldozer are also expensive and they results in loss of top soil. Although, Excavators are the most powerful and are very stable during working conditions, however they are slow to operate. Tractors equipped with heavy-duty rakes are used for felling, raking, and withdrawing extremely heavy material having stem diameters up to 72 inches. Backhoe are considered to be extremely versatile, they work fast, dig deep, lift high, and capable to loading very heavy things. In addition, one may have to also use pair of forks and front end loader rack onto a backhoe. However, the disadvantages are that it can get stuck, get flat tires, one has to raise and lower the flaps and move the machine a lot.
The selection of these heavy equipment involves learning the type, brand, model and price. In addition, one has to know the limitations of each equipment, their maintenance and how fast the replacement parts be obtained.