Some basics of right-of-way (R.O.W.) and land clearing may never change, but advances in technology and environmental concerns keep coming. That means more efficient and safer methods are being developed.

Enhanced efficiency for tractors

Regulations concerning engine emissions continue to tighten. Caterpillar is just one of the manufacturers working to meet those demands with new releases, including the track-type tractor line.

Cat’s ACERT technology incorporates an advanced intake air management system with enhanced turbo charging, according to a company news release. An electronically managed fuel-injection system shapes each combustion cycle through multiple-injection fuel delivery. This results in clean combustion, reliable power and improved fuel efficiency. Fuel savings up to 6 percent are achieved with the D6T’s on-demand fan; a feature that requires less fuel when the tractor is operated in reverse cuts gas consumption another 3 percent.

New Cat D6T, D7E and D8T models feature Cat engines and after-treatment solutions to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 Interim emissions standards. Photo: Caterpillar

The ACERT system, along with the company’s nitrogen oxide reduction system and clean emissions scheme, meet Tier 4 Interim (IT4) emissions standards in new track-type tractor models D6T, D7E and D8T. These models offer delayed engine shutdown timers and engine idle shutdown timers. Key off regeneration is optional. Later this year, an insulated clean emissions module will be available for high debris applications demanding thermal shields.

Servicing is simplified with ground-level access to batteries and engine shutdown. New lighting, steps and grab bars make the machines easier to enter.

Excavator attachments help you do more

To make excavators work even harder, Loftness has introduced its Carbide Cutter Extreme tree and brush-cutting attachment. The new head is approved for use on 20 to 30-ton excavators and features bent-axis piston motors and high-strength steel housing. It offers a machined bearing anti-wrap design, a six-groove banded belt and a rotor speed of 1,300 to 1,800 RPM. With a 21-inch diameter rotor, the Loftness mulcher utilizes carbide teeth with forged steel holders.

Three models, the 40XCE160, 50XCE160 and 60XCE160, offer cutting widths from 40 to 60 inches and overall widths ranging from 66 to 86 inches. Each is equipped with 24 to 366 carbide teeth, depending on size.

Hydraulic Kits for Excavators says its Active Control Technology (ACT) system accommodates up to 50 attachment settings. It provides control of functions such as flow, pressure and direction. The electronic device uses a small monitor loaded with a database of preprogrammed attachments, allowing an operator to run things with the push of a button.

Rayco’s stump cutter is equipped with a new remote control feature. Photo: Rayco

Excavator improvements

John Deere is one of several firms introducing new excavators. Deere launched its new G-Series excavators in March. The 250G, 290G and 350G models range from 191 to 299 hp and include IT4-certified engines, increased power and an improved cab. The company says those factors result in 8 percent greater productivity. Larger models, the 470G, 670G and 870G, will roll out this summer. For operators, the G-series includes more glass and lighting in the cab to improve the line of sight. It also features a high-back, adjustable seat.

John Deere’s 290G excavator offers increased power and hydraulic flow. Photo: John Deere

With a totally new take on excavators, Takeuchi unveiled what it says is the world’s first all-electric, battery-powered mini excavator. The prototype introduced in March, the TB117e, offers six hours of continuous operation on a full battery charge. Recharging takes 12 hours.

Similar to the model TB016, the machine has a 7-foot digging depth, a bucket breakout force of 4,079 pounds and an arm breakout force of 1,709 pounds. Its expandable undercarriage and adjustable blade width facilitate working in tight spaces. The electric excavator requires no oil or coolants. Takeuchi reports an 80 percent reduction in operational costs.

Updates in chipper lines

For improved chipper performance, one company to look to is Morbark, Inc. Its Advantage 3 chipping drum offers improved performance and drops maintenance costs, including replacement parts, by 70 percent.

What’s different? The manufacturer focused on parts subject to heavy wear and tear, including the pocket, knife and knife-holding assembly. The new machine has greater clamping force and more durable knives. In addition, Morbark says the frequency of sharpening has been decreased. The drum shaft is now more durable, due to reduced stress. Offering more uniform chips, the Advantage 3 has a three-year warranty. It is available on new chippers; existing equipment may be retrofitted.


Morbark and Rayco both have launched new horizontal grinders. Rayco positions the RH1754 as compact (the 14,500-pound model can be towed behind most 1-ton pickups) and affordable. Features of the Rayco unit include a large radiator with removable debris screen and reversing fan, optional tracks and an emergency shutoff button positioned by the control station. It includes a remote and swing-away fuel tank for speedy screen changes.

Morbark’s 3800XL, unveiled in March, focuses on retooled feeding technology designed to increase production capacity and operating efficiency. The company says the model’s updated reverse-pilot fed system shrinks space between the feed wheel and the hammer mill, so debris isn’t left behind in the mechanism, but rather flows forward in seamless production. Outfitted with a remote, the 3800XL also boasts improved fuel efficiency. Engine sizes up to 800 hp are available.

Who’s got the remote?

Speaking of remote control, Rayco has added that feature to its stump cutter line, with the introduction of the RG100R. Stump cutter choices include 66.8 and 99.2 hp Kubota diesel engines with hydrostatic cutter wheel drives. Features include Rayco’s “Command Cut” capacity, four-wheel drive, hydraulic backfill blade and swing-out chip retainers.

However, he points out that the mulch-based clearing business is not the easier operation to launch. Jobs are scarce for newcomers, who also face high equipment costs.

“You need to be able to pay cash for all of the equipment and not depend on it to earn any money for the first few years,” he says.

In addition, the work is hard on equipment, so repairs are often needed. Fuel consumption can be heavy, as well.

For SP, the formula of blending an emerging service for which demand is certain to grow with family has proved a winning combination.

Morbark’s new chipper drum reduces maintenance costs by 70 percent. Photo: Morbark

Make the earth move

For a range of land-clearing and site-preparation jobs, Deere offers a crawler dozer, the 850K model, with an IT4 engine and dual-path hydrostatics. Cab mounts drop noise levels for operators by 45 percent. The company met consumer demands for easier servicing of the cooling system with a fold-down fan box for dual-side access to the unit for cleaning. Swing-out doors designed without bolts are quick to remove.

The outside dozer blade features a three-hole blade pitch with easy adjustments to facilitate a wide range of settings. Added clearance at the end of a push was achieved with the blade’s raised position.

A companion machine is the 755K crawler loader with a power train and track system created to pair with the 850K. Deere says clients asked for a North American-built loader that was tweaked for regional terrain variations. Mimicking the noise reduction and productivity improvement of the dozer, the loader offers a choice of V-pattern or joystick transmission control. A rear ripper aids in material turning.

New to the American market is Shantui Construction Machinery‘s SD10YE bulldozer. The Chinese manufacturer’s introduction is possible because it now meets Tier III emissions standards. The SD10YE is the firm’s smallest machine; it plans to offer several more products over the next few years. Shantui also manufactures loaders and forklifts.

The Bobcat and Gyro Trac team up to clear and mulch trees in a highway right-of-way. Photo: SP Land Services

Dealing with water

Along with improved models and greater efficiency, manufacturers are introducing land clearing equipment to meet unique needs. Got a swamp to clear? Look to Remu USA, Inc.

The company’s Big Float amphibious excavator operates in marshlands and shallow waters. The floating machine can be driven right into water with its tracks, and effectively clears vegetation and sediment. Available in three sizes, it differs from a standard excavator by employing a long reach boom. The undercarriage is replaced with a pontoon.

The Remu machine may be narrowed for land transport via truck. Optional extra pontoons and propellers allow for water transport.