We asked experts from several leading equipment manufacturers: “What’s the one thing tree care professionals need to consider when purchasing land clearing and/or vegetation management equipment?”

Here’s what they had to say:

Jeff Bohr
Product Manager/efco

The answer to this question is durability. Many times I see products being used in applications the product was never intended for. Cost management is always a factor in any job, but if you’re thinking a piece of equipment will “probably do,” you’re on the wrong track. Factors to consider are how many trees you’re working with, average diameter of the trees and the amount of acreage or linear footage to remove or control. These factors then need to be discussed with a professional dealer. Remember, that while a larger product may cost more, it can save time and reduce product failures. It may also significantly reduce operator fatigue, which is one of the biggest factors in safety. Benjamin Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” While this sounds good, the real phrase should be, “An extra dollar spent can save hundreds.” This is more appropriate in land clearing and vegetation management applications.

Jenny Awad

Vice President, Sales and Marketing/Ammbusher

You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight — therefore, the area you’re managing will quickly decide what type of equipment you need to bring to a job site. I’ve found that the purpose-built machine is the key to vegetation management. In 1993, Ammbusher introduced the first skid steer rotary cutter attachment to the market. Since then, the various skid steer companies have increased their loader productivity with speed, horsepower and lifting capacity. They also maneuver well in subdivisions and in close quarters. In turn, the attachment companies are working hard to keep up with the demands of the market. The compact loader seems to have the largest range of purpose-built attachments. Do your research and understand what capabilities your equipment has as far as lift limits, horsepower, fuel efficiency and agility on terrain. Also available are the dedicated forest machines that are built to hold up under rigorous conditions.

J.R. Bowling

Vice President/Rayco

Tree care professionals should consider which machine will get the job done safely, efficiently and on time, while minimizing downtime and maintenance costs. You need a machine you can count on. In many cases, a purpose-built machine is the answer. Rayco offers forestry mulchers with steel or rubber tracks, so you can choose the undercarriage that’s right for your job, no matter the environment. Operator safety is another important factor to consider. All of our machines offer a true forestry cab that is ROPS/OPS/ FOPS-certified, with escape hatches both in the roof and rear windows. The cabs are also climate controlled and sealed off from dust. Rayco forestry mulchers offer a patented, elevated cooling design that keeps vital engine and hydraulic components within their temperature limits. Radiator maintenance is easier and service intervals are extended, which means you get the work done on time.

Casey Gross

General Manager, Tree Care Products/Morbark

Things tree care professionals need to consider when purchasing land clearing and/ or vegetation management equipment include the production, value and serviceability of the equipment. But they also need to consider the aftermarket support of the manufacturer. They need to look at what their future business needs might be, as well as addressing their immediate business needs to determine what equipment is going to give them the best long-term value.

Bill Schafer

Product Development Supervisor/Loftness

Profitability is the name of the game, and this hinges on efficiency and cost of operation. For instance, normal wear and tear on consumable components, such as teeth, has a significant impact on a machine’s running cost per hour. Therefore, the cost of replacement teeth should be an important part of your buying decisions. Fuel costs are equally important. A poorly designed mulching head may require the operator to work an area several times to get the desired end result. On the other hand, an efficiently designed mulching attachment, such as the Loftness Carbide Cutter G4, provides a more finished product that results in fuel savings and fewer passes. Within this industry, the status quo isn’t good enough anymore. Be sure to deal with an innovative company that continues to raise the bar. Arborists often work in cruel environments, so service and product support after the sale can’t be downplayed.