What is that bright blue armor wrapped around those skidder tires? They’re called Eco-Wheel Tracks, manufactured by the Swedish company Olofsfors, and marketed as helping to improve traction, reduce compaction and rutting, and last longer than traditional tire chains. But do they? Taylor Richmond, a Master’s student at SUNY-ESF, digs into these questions with the WAC Forestry Program.
In June, we completed two research trials that measured the effect of wheel cover type (bare tires, chains, and tracks) and increasing skidder passes on soil compaction and rutting. Each trial represented 144 skidder passes, 936 measurements of soil mechanical resistance, 192 soil cores for bulk density analysis, and 48 wheel rut transects.
This research project serves as something of a Consumer Reports review of Eco-Wheel Tracks for loggers that may have been considering them for their own operations. If the tracks show evidence of protecting soils and/or increasing logger economic viability, WAC could consider a cost-share program to promote their use on logging jobs in the NYC Watershed.