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Thread: Best machine for 2 acres of decomposing brush/log pile

  1. #1
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    Best machine for 2 acres of decomposing brush/log pile

    The land we just bought has about 2 acres of a brush/log pile. Its rows and rows of 10-15ft high. It looks like a mountain range. The former owner had allowed the power company to dump 100's of dump loads of tornado debris. We have been told it was 3-5 year ago. At first we though we would burn it, but most of it has decomposed to the point where its a lot of mulch and will not burn.

    While its too decomposed to burn, there are still a lot of logs and some stumps in.

    We were hoping we could our machines. We have a 955L track loader and a Ford 555 backhoe.

    Thanks,.
    DP

  2. #2
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    I would say take the 955 and tear the piles apart. Roll out the big pieces and push that up to burn and whatever breaks up will finish decomposing soon enough.

    Chris

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    just work on getting it burning and once it starts it will keep on going. or use the 955 and make smaller piles of dry burnable brush and burn small piles and stack up the wet heavy mulch material separately

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    what bucket/attachment do u have one the 955

    like the others say pull apart the pile and find some of the larger logs and stumps get them going hot

    depending on how wet and decomposed it is could u throw that on top the fire in medium doses and then it would burn off the top or is it too far past that?

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    What are you hoping to do with the land?

    If you want to burn it, I would think 5 years would be just enough to get the big stuff nice and dry. Sure some of the little stuff is compost, but once you get it started, it will burn. A blower will make it burn a lot faster and cleaner.

  6. #6
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    I don't want to burn it because I want it turn to compost as the land is what they call Alabama Flatwoods (clay and not much top soil). They call it Gumbo in Mississippi.
    So far we have been pretty successful just by driving over it and squashing it. We will have to haul the big stuff out and burn it.

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    Sounds like you have it figured out pretty good. You might look closer at the big stuff, some species have extremely durable heartwood, even after many decades the sapwood will have rotted off but the heartwood will still be solid for firewood or lumber. Some of the logs will be well on their way to compost and bag of urea or other nitrogen fertilizer spread over each pile will speed their composting, or if they have enough compost mixed in already planting some clover or legume would help too.

  8. #8
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    They have mobile chipping machines to make mulch out it. Saw that on Swamp Loggers.

    Just amazing you can burn; out on the left coast it's just ag waste and cuttings, anything else goes to the dump or recycling place.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator CM1995's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Landclearer View Post
    I would say take the 955 and tear the piles apart. Roll out the big pieces and push that up to burn and whatever breaks up will finish decomposing soon enough.

    Chris
    That was my suggestion as well.

    A good friend of mine had a similar situation on 42 acres he bought and turned into pasture for his cows. The property had been clear cut 4-5 years before he bought it and had slash piles everywhere. He used his 953 to break the piles apart and root out the bigger pieces, which he stacked in a burn pile with the secondary growth he cleared along the way. Most of the old slash piles were a good source of "compost" he spread over the cleared areas.

    I would do what landclearer suggested and start at one end and work to the end. The decomposed material will add nutrients to the poor clay soil I am too familiar with.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member powerjoke's Avatar
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    Burn it and churn it in the existing soil it will help it out!

  11. #11
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    What do you want to use the compost for? New pasture or row crops? How much of the stuff is actually breaking down at this point? I do a lot of commercial/ag composting and have helped on a project similar to this one at a buddy's farm.

    I would not advocate burning. My dad and I have burned a lot of brush in my life, and I have had bad experiences with the fires coming back to life 3-4 months later during a drought. It can be really scary. I always advocate composting before burning, because when you wake up a 12:40 a.m. to orange light flashing in your windows, you realize that burning some brush is also wagering your entire farm. Nothing has scared me so bad in my life as those fires that came back to life after being dead for so long. And I do mean 4 months or more.

    I am sure others have had similar experiences. Try to compost what you can and pile the heartwood pieces against a fence row. It's a line of barbed wire you will never have to fix again....

  12. #12
    Senior Member Tinkerer's Avatar
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    Spontaneous combustion in mulch is a unfortunately a very common occurrence. Even mulch placed around buildings in landscaping has been known to ignite. There is a good chance those fires that started three or four months after extinguishing the original fires was spontaneous combustion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    Spontaneous combustion in mulch is a unfortunately a very common occurrence. Even mulch placed around buildings in landscaping has been known to ignite. There is a good chance those fires that started three or four months after extinguishing the original fires was spontaneous combustion.
    Yeah, I am familiar with spontaneous combustion. I have a pretty big commercial composting operation on my farm, and I have never had problems with mulch or compost catching on fire. The mulch around buildings catching on fire thing is hard to believe, in my opinion. The density, pressure, and oxygen needed to create fire is too high. Maybe it has happened. I have heard that these cases were often later attributed to cigarettes. I don't know for sure, though, so maybe you are correct.

    The brush pile of mine that caught 4 months later had numerous half-dried red oak stumps in it. They were coaling. It rained for two months, and then dried up. It was a hot and very windy night, I believe in April, and the new brush that we'd been putting on top of the old pile caught (we were stupid to do this, yes). There wasn't really anything in the pile that would have been composting to that degree. I have turned over old ash piles many times, and they do not have heat like mulch or compost does. When we pulled the stumps out with my loader, you could see how they would have coaled for so long. The Fire Marshall came out to my place twice, once with the Fire Marshall from a neighboring county so that they could both look at it, and one of them told me that he has seen land-clearing fires coal for OVER ONE YEAR when they built the 64 Interchange. That's crazy!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Tinkerer's Avatar
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    I read this on the FireEngineering web site. This is a small clip of an extensive article about mulch fires. They have photos of a hotel and a house that caught fire from the burning mulch. I myself have seen numerous wood chip piles at different jobs I was on catch on fire from Spontanious combustion.
    Combating and Preventing Mulch Fires
    03/01/2008
    BY MARK J. FINUCANE

    Thousands of mulch fires are reported annually in every state. The Johnson City (TN) Fire Department has its share of mulch fires, averaging 100 per year. Mulch fires occur year-round but primarily in the summer when there is little rainfall. As a result, vegetation and landscaping materials become dried out, allowing for easy ignition. Mulch fires have caused extensive damage to structures and woodlands in and around Johnson City.

  15. #15
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    Get some of the dryer lumber and brush together and make a big heap... then add the other stuff slowley ,,, it will burn but will Take a while,,, don't be tempted to bury it as the land will sink as it decomposes,,

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