Friday Offcuts 16 September 2022
Click to Subscribe - It's FREE!This week we’ve included a story out of the US that demonstrates just how business models are changing with the roll out and adoption of new technology. John Deere’s signature green and yellow machines are visible across rural and forest communities around the world. The sales and operations of this new equipment though is changing. Self- driving tractors, harvesters and other smart farming machinery are being rolled out in the US this year and by 2030, Deere said, it’s going to be offering autonomous models across its entire equipment line. They’re not all new though. Software is also turning some of the older tractors into autonomous-capable vehicles.
The software driving this technology is also providing a welcome new revenue stream for the company, as it is for other large equipment suppliers. By the end of the decade, they’re projecting that 10% of Deere’s annual revenues is likely to be coming from fees from their software subscriptions. It’s helping the farmers improve their efficiencies but it’s also a real plus for the suppliers or manufacturers. Although equipment is still going to dominate future sales, its estimated that the average gross margin for farming software is 85%, compared with 25% for equipment sales. We’ve supplied a link to the full story below.
In timber construction this week we’ve built in an update on Launceston’s AU$30 million, 28-metre-high timber building that’s going to become the most sustainable and carbon- positive office in Tasmania and we’ve included details of the recently published “Fire Safe Use of Wood in Buildings - Global Design Guide”. And for those interested in the very latest developments around engineered wood design, particularly in mass timber construction, remember the 7th annual WoodWorks mass timber event, WoodWorks 2022 is running in Rotorua, New Zealand on 8-9 November. Pre-conference site visits to Red Stag Wood Solutions CLT Plant are also open to delegates. Full details can be found on the WoodWorks website.
And finally, after not meeting up in Australia in person for three years (two years in NZ), the ForestTECH community is finally getting together again in mid-November as part of the Australasian ForestTECH 2022 series. Full programme details can be found on the event website. To capitalise on the gathering of resource managers, inventory foresters, tree crop and forest establishment staff travelling into Rotorua and Melbourne, four pre and post-conference workshops have been set up. They’re being run by Eagle Technology, the new grouping Tools for Foresters, Skylab and Remsoft. What’s more, they’re free for ForestTECH 2022 delegates to attend.
And finally, brought to our attention this week, it looks like someone is looking to go on the front foot and put in a plug for the often under- fire pine in NZ. Check out the new "Standing with Pines" website, www.standingwithpines.co.nz. And on that note, enjoy this week’s read.
This week we have for you:
Recognition for NZ forestry’s highest achieversThis week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.
Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high calibre of this year’s award contenders.”
The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science-based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.”
The New Zealand Forester of the Year Award winner is Don Hammond. This highly coveted industry prize rewards a person for their exceptional contribution to the forestry sector throughout the past year. Hammond’s work this year has been fundamental to ensure that log export markets have remained open to forest owners in Aotearoa New Zealand. Presenting the award, Treadwell said “The entire forestry sector is very fortunate, to have had the right person in the right place. Hammond has navigated through very difficult waters to improve the lot of foresters across the nation."
The Kirk Horn Award, New Zealand’s oldest science award, is awarded to Ian Page (pictured). This prestigious award is made biennially. It acknowledges outstanding contribution to the field of forestry. Page has been a highly successful professional forester in Aotearoa New Zealand for over 40 years. He has made a distinguished contribution across the industry: in research, as a forester, in forest contracting, and as a forest consultant in one of the country’s first forest consulting companies.
NZIF has also appointed two new Fellows, Simon Rapley and Tim Thorpe for their tireless work over decades to help grow and improve the NZ forest sector.
As the Forestry sector continues to mature, recognition is dawning of its growing range of positive impacts for New Zealanders beyond financial returns. Its social benefits, such as carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing are coming into full focus too. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity in 2022 to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”
Four extra workshops for ForestTECH 2022The ForestTECH series has firmly established itself on the Australasian calendar. Since 2007, aside from a recent hiccup or two with Covid enforced travel and meeting restrictions, it’s been run annually for the forestry industry on both sides of the Tasman. In more recent years, it’s also truly become an international event with well over 100 delegates from 20 different countries joining in remotely to each event over the last couple of years.
It’s the one technology series every year where remote sensing, GIS, mapping and forest inventory specialists, and more recently, tree crop, forest establishment and silvicultural managers - get-together. For the first time in three years for Australia (two for the NZ forestry industry) forestry companies will be meeting up face to face at two venues, Rotorua, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. It’s been long overdue.
And, as we have done at recent ForestTECH events, two distinct themes have been selected. In addition to the usual technology updates on remote sensing, forest inventory and new data collection technologies, we’ll also be focussing this year on mechanised planting and automated silviculture. Because of the interest being shown in the end of year series, forest companies and technology providers from Sweden, Chile and Brazil will also be presenting at ForestTECH 2022 this year. Full details on each of the two programmes can be found here.
To capitalise on those travelling into Rotorua or Melbourne, four workshops for ForestTECH 2022 delegates have been set up.
In New Zealand:
1. A pre-conference workshop on Imagery & Remote Sensing with ArcGIS is being run by Eagle Technology. The workshop will be exploring the ArcGIS imagery tools and workflows for visualisation and analysis and how to access the best data for your forest operations.
2. A post-conference workshop is also being run by Tools for Foresters on how to use UAVs operationally within the forest. The full half-day workshop has been planned to take delegates through standard operational procedures for using UAVs to carry out operational forestry assessments, and how to analyse collected data for decision making.
In Australia, two workshops likewise have been set up.
3. A two-hour hands-on pre-conference workshop is being run by Skylab where delegates will learn how to easily upload, process and analyse drone, plane or satellite imagery in a cloud environment.
4. A post-conference half day workshop has also been set up by Remsoft with case studies presented by Forico and the Forestry Corporation of NSW. The functionality of the Remsoft system, implementation experience, data integration, extending reporting options using BI, and the insights seen from their Artificial Intelligence (AI) models linked to the platform will be outlined to ForestTECH 2022 delegates.
Registrations to all of these workshops are free to ForestTECH 2022 delegates. Details on each can be found using these links; NZ ForestTECH 22 Workshops and AU ForestTECH 22 Workshops. Interest in attending can be made at the time registrations are made.
WoodWorks Conference to showcase mass timberOur 7th Annual WoodWorks Conference comes to Rotorua, New Zealand on 8-9 November
With mass timber really catching on for commercial construction in New Zealand we are pleased to invite professionals across the wood products sector to register to attend – early bird rates still apply for a limited time! Click here to register.
Keynote Address: 'Performance-based Development of Fast, Efficient Mass Timber Connections' - One of our keynote speakers, Jon Roebuck, from Holmes has established an excellent track record in advancing technology for mass timber buildings. He leads the Mass Timber Technology team at the Holmes Solutions R&D Centre in Christchurch. He still gets a kick out of seeing their technology making a meaningful difference to our built environment.
Our team recently developed a novel range of mass timber connections with class-leading efficiency, capacity, and seismic resilience, which is currently being commercialised by a global leader in construction hardware. We are excited to bring product innovation to the mass timber revolution!
How do we rate the performance of a connection? Load and fire rating are high on the list, but it can also include total cost of ownership; construction efficiency and effort; resilience and robustness and 'beyond code' opportunities. Holmes Solutions will present case studies where they have used evidence-based development to optimise performance of timber connections in all these areas. This is how we can help the mass timber revolution to progress, by exploring new technology and pushing boundaries.
NZ forest research bids successfulTwo innovative Scion research projects will receive investment funding totalling NZ$1.9 million over three years through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2022 Endeavour Fund.
Scion scientists will also contribute their expertise to a further six projects involving other research organisations that secured Government support from the Endeavour Fund – Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund.
Endeavour funding for the two successful Scion projects will come from its Smart Ideas investment mechanism. Smart Ideas are intended to catalyse and rapidly test promising, innovative research ideas with high potential for benefit to New Zealand.
One pioneering Scion project, in partnership with the University of Cambridge, ‘Implanted sensors monitoring tree health and carbon capture efficiency’, will receive NZ$1 million over three years to design sensors to measure the nutritional status, vitality, carbon capture efficiency and microbiome fitness of growing trees.
Precision forestry uses remote sensing tools such as satellites and drones, combined with sophisticated sensors, to detect subtle variations in plant health, nutrient and water status. Monitoring the physiological processes inside trees in real-time is the only way to fully understand how trees are responding to the environment around them and to future-proofing their resilience to climate change.
To implement this in practice, Scion will develop sophisticated low-cost bioelectronic sensors which can be implanted inside trees. These types of sensors have been used in biomedical research – but rarely used inside trees for forestry. Their use in New Zealand radiata pine will be pioneering.
Data generated by these sensors will be transmitted from the trees via a wireless network in the forest. Fusing data from remote sensing together with physiological sensors within trees, combined with genome and climate data, can provide the most complete insights into a growing forest anywhere in the world.
Successful too, was the Scion proposal, ‘Plant-inspired 3D-printed scaffold for tissue culture’. Awarded NZ$900,000 over three years, Scion scientists will explore new technology that aims to improve the tissue culture technique that makes clonal forestry possible in conifers.
Science leaders at Scion will also contribute to six collaborative projects that received a total of NZ$5,754,700 from the Endeavour Fund. They involve joint research with Auckland University, WSP Research NZ Ltd, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, Lincoln University, Auckland University of Technology and Massey University.
Scion chief executive Dr Julian Elder says the announcement is fantastic news for the Scion teams who were successful in securing funding.
Global shipping prices easing but demand downGlobal shipping prices are now trending down with the volatile Baltic Dry Index falling nearly 50% in August. ANZ agri economist Susan Kilsby says it’s “now clear that shipping prices are easing, but they remain way above pre-pandemic levels”.
The forestry index lifted 1% in August, reversing the downward trend seen over the last three months. The ANZ World Commodity Price Index fell 3.3% in August with the pace of decline accelerating in the past three months. In NZ dollar terms the decline was even greater, with the index falling 4.4% as our currency appreciated 1.1% according to the Trade Weighted Index.
SnapSTAT - Scenarios for NZ forest industry
Australia's hopes to become an EV-mineral superpowerA story and video out of left field – but interesting for those who have been keeping a watching brief on the continued rise of electric vehicles in our day to day lives – and moves to integrate the technology into harvesting and wood transport fleets.
The coming electric vehicle revolution relies on a handful of minerals for the batteries to power them. And there's an abundance of all of them, including lithium, cobalt and nickel in Australia. ABC’s Energy reporter Daniel Mercer looks at whether the mining sector is ready to capitalise on global demand and become an energy superpower.
Source: ABC News
Fire Safe Use of Wood in Buildings Design GuideThe Fire Safe Use of Wood (FSUW) global network has published the “Fire Safe Use of Wood in Buildings - Global Design Guide”. The guideline is edited by Andy Buchanan and Birgit Östman. Together with many international experts, they have put together a guide that uses the latest scientific knowledge to give guidance on the extended use of design codes and standards and principles of performance-based design to provide practical guidance with examples for fire safe design of timber buildings.
The new international book was put together with help from over 20 authors in a dozen countries. There was a major contribution from Australia and NZ. Australian chapter authors were Andrew Dunn (TDA NSW), David Barber (Arup, Melbourne) and Paul England (retired from Warrington Fire Labs). In addition to Andy Buchanan, the NZ authors were Colleen Wade (Fire Research Group) and Ed Claridge (Auckland Council).
To access or download the new guide, click here
Latest edition of Australian timber report releasedSoftwood timber products – Quarterly
Prices for untreated MGP structural timber products stabilised in the June quarter 2022, with price movements ranging between no change and 0.6% higher. Prices for treated outdoor products showed stronger increases, ranging between 1.7% and 2.8% higher.
Prices for most panel products showed moderate increases of up to 1.4%, while price movements for particleboard products were notably stronger, ranging between 4.1% and 5.8% higher over the quarter. The June quarter marked another period of exceptionally strong price growth for engineered wood products, with price increases for LVL and I joist/I-beam products ranging between 11.3% and 17.9%.
Hardwood timber products – Six monthly
Price movements for kiln dried structural hardwood products ranged between 3.3% and 8.3% higher over the six months to the end of June 2022. Price movements for green sawn products were mixed, with F11 timber prices in NSW remaining stable and F8 timber prices in Victoria increasing by 3.5%.
Prices for hardwood flooring products increased sharply over the six months to the end of June. Tasmanian oak and Blackbutt flooring prices increased between 7.6% and 14.5%, while price movements for Victorian ash and Spotted gum flooring ranged between 6.4% and 8.8% higher.
The TMS collects price data through quarterly surveys of a representative sample of timber market participants in eastern Australia. All quarterly TMS reports contain price movement information for softwood timber, panels and engineered wood products. The June and December quarter editions also include price movement information for hardwood timber products surveyed over a six-month period.
The TMS is prepared by Indufor and funded by nine major Australian forestry organisations: Forestry Corporation of NSW; VicForests; Hancock Victorian Plantations; HQPlantations; OneFortyOne Plantations; Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Green Triangle Forest Products; AKD Softwoods; Southern Cross Forests; and Sustainable Timber Tasmania. Further information and the latest Timber Market Survey report is available here
New Forests launches New AgricultureNew Forests, a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies, has announced the formation of a new business division, New Agriculture and the appointment of four experienced investment professionals to the team.
New Agriculture has been established to build a portfolio of agriculture assets globally, starting in Australia and New Zealand, and to manage the Lawson Grains 100,000-hectare aggregation, which was acquired by New Forests and Alberta Investment Management Company (AIMCo) in January 2022.
New Agriculture’s objective is to manage these assets for market leading investment returns through sustainable agricultural production while also aligning with New Forests’ strategic impact objectives to contribute to nature-based solutions, shared prosperity and the circular bioeconomy.
The four appointments to the team are Bruce King, Director of Agriculture; Ben Mason, Portfolio Manager; Ben Pickles, Manager, Operations, alongside existing team member Jamie Lord, Manager, Investments. Bruce will report to Mark Rogers, Senior Managing Director, Australia, New Zealand and the United States for New Forests.
Commenting on how New Agriculture aligns with New Forests’ vision, Mark Rogers, Senior Managing Director, Australia, New Zealand and the United States said, “New Agriculture builds upon New Forests’ 17-year track record managing forestry and other landscapes for sustainable production.
“Like forestry, agriculture is a real asset which provides investors with a strong cash yield, a natural inflation hedge and is uncorrelated to other asset classes. By combining our experience in forestry with agriculture, we can seek to optimise the value of the land between sustainable food and fibre production, carbon sequestration, conservation, and community benefits. We believe that improving agricultural land management and optimising landscapes for multiple uses, will help the global economy transition to a sustainable future.”
About New Forests
New Forests is a global investment manager of nature-based real assets and natural capital strategies, with AU$8.7 billion in assets under management across 1.1 million hectares of investments. New Forests manages a diversified portfolio of sustainable timber plantations and conservation areas, carbon and conservation finance projects, agriculture, timber processing and infrastructure assets.
Source: New Forests
Radiata pine more widely spread than thoughtRadiata pine (Pinus radiata, or Monterey pine) is native to North America, where it is narrowly distributed along the Californian coast, but is one of the most widely planted tree species in the southern hemisphere. It had naturalized in New Zealand by 1904.
At present, radiata pine is by far the largest contributor to New Zealand's forestry industry, comprising 90% of the total plantation area. It supplies most domestic wood products, and is the third largest export earner, contributing around 3% of GDP.
In a recent paper published in the journal Biological Invasions, lead author Dr. Peter Bellingham of Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research and colleagues reassessed the prevailing view, stemming from the late 1980s, that radiata pine is only a minor invasive species in New Zealand.
Thirty years on, the researchers undertook the first comprehensive review of where invasive radiata pine occurs in New Zealand, and evaluated whether climatic conditions are suitable for radiata pine to invade nationally.
The modeling showed that up to 76% of the land area of New Zealand is climatically capable of supporting radiata populations—only the very coldest and wettest areas are unsuitable. Plot and site data from the National Vegetation Survey database showed that radiata pine occurs far more widely across New Zealand than previously appreciated.
For expert reaction to the release click here
Source: Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research
The changing times of new machine offeringsThis piece from WSJ gives an insight into how farming and machinery are being evaporated into the cloud as well. John Deere expects 10% of its revenues to be from data subscriptions by 2030.
By 2026, Deere wants to connect 1.5 million machines in service and a half billion acres in use to its cloud-based John Deere Operations Center, which will collect and store crop data, including millions of images of weeds that can be targeted by herbicide. Deere last year acquired California-based start-up Bear Flag Robotics for US$250 million to provide software for turning older tractors into autonomous-capable vehicles.
Selling farmers subscriptions to the software is expected to yield higher profit margins than sales of Deere’s signature green and yellow machinery, which will continue to make up the bulk of Deere sales. A 2021 report from Bernstein analysts estimated the average gross margin for farming software at 85%, compared with 25% for equipment sales.
Using biomass to take cane trains beyond dieselDiesel is impressive. Impressive in its abundance, energy density and liquid transportability. These unique features have made it ubiquitous to heavy transport and traction in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This powerful substance now runs the agricultural machinery that feeds 7.5 billion people worldwide and overall, it does the work equivalent to having an extra 50 billion manual labourers on the planet. Every product in existence now relies on diesel, at some stage of its journey, to reach the market. Diesel’s grip on our world is impressive indeed.
Pacific Island Nations entered the diesel-powered global economy without much say in the matter and today they pay the highest price in the world for their participation. As the price of diesel reaches all-time highs and continues to rise steadily, so do global temperatures and sea levels.
Diesel’s immense contribution to the climate crisis, which already disrupts life in Pacific Island Nations and will continue to do so for centuries to come, makes it completely unviable as a future fuel. This raises questions; when diesel duly departs, what will fill the void that it leaves behind? And is this “solution" practical, affordable and appropriate for the Pacific?
Mackwell Locomotive Co, a New Zealand based company, may offer a pragmatic solution to this predicament. They specialise in the design, development and construction of zero-carbon locomotives which run on solid-biofuels. Solid-biofuels are regenerative, transportable and completely carbon neutral as the next season’s growth cycle absorbs the previous season’s emissions.
Local communities can purpose grow them as a market good or they can be sourced from industry waste streams. In the Pacific Region, wood-chip, coconut husk and sugarcane bagasse can all be sourced in bulk from the forestry, coconut and sugar industries.
Solid-biofuels require minimal effort to produce. You simply grow, tend to and harvest the crop before processing it (e.g. through a chipper) to make it ready for consumption. As a result, solid-biofuels typically have an Energy-ROI of >25:1. This means for every unit of energy invested in producing the fuel, you will receive at least 25 units of profit energy back. Liquid biofuels in comparison require complex factories to refine energy crops and provide an unsustainable Energy-ROI of 2:1 or less.
Launceston’s 28-metre-high timber buildingLaunceston’s AU$30 million, 28-metre-high timber building is set to become the most sustainable and carbon-positive office in Tasmania. Encompassing 500m2 of Cusp CLT, it also aims to be the first building to have a zero-carbon footprint, showing what’s possible in the built industry when it comes to the adoption of mass timber.
Situated on the edge of Launceston’s CBD, the new headquarters for Tasmanian health insurer St Lukes Health will be founded on an existing structure, with its timber trusses, external walls, and concrete floor to be reutilised.
Timber Design Studio’s Dayne Davis, the specialist timber engineer behind the build, says the benefits of timber structures don’t stop at sustainability. In most cases, concrete will beat timber on price when comparing the raw materials side-by-side, but when you take a holistic view of a building, timber wins in the long run.
Dayne says “We don’t have layers of paint and gypsum and all these additional elements, which traditionally go into a normal concrete building fit out. When it comes to the building needing to be recycled, it can be taken down and repurposed for other builds and for other uses like affordable housing.
“Taking a lead from Europe, we look at financing via the carbon tax. Building with mass timber would negate those carbon taxes for a building like the St Lukes Offices.” When it comes to how quickly a building is erected, using mass timber can see a project completed in a matter of weeks instead of months, as back propping is taken out of the concreting equation.
The Launceston timber build is set to be completed by the end of 2023.
Buy and Sell
... and one to end the week on ... letter of recommendation
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On that note, enjoy your weekend. Cheers.
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