Kochii eucalyptus trees, which produce the best eucalyptus oil Australia has to offer, can regrow up to a hundred times from the same stump. That’s a lot of harvesting, and it’s why Richard Leitch from Kochii Eucalyptus Oil chooses Kobelco excavators from LiftRite.
During mature tree harvest, Kochii Eucalyptus Oil’s excavators work around the clock, harvesting up to 35 tonnes per day. Managing the mature trees well is critical to this fairly young business, to get the three year growth and harvest cycle running smoothly.
“Right now there are a lot of mature trees that haven’t been harvested before,” Richard says. “We need to get them harvested and into our production cycle, so we’ve just recently bought an eight tonne Kobelco SK75SR to help with those bigger trees.
“We were previously using 5.5 tonne Kobelcos and we’ll be keeping four of these in our fleet, but the bigger machine is faster with greater reach, which makes mature tree management a lot easier.”
The machines are used with regular and shear grab attachments to pile trees and load the chipper.
It’s a far cry from the earlier days of the business, when Richard’s team used a telehandler and loaded the chipper by hand.
Because the trees can regrow 100 times from the stump – also known as the coppice – Richard says Kochii Eucalyptus Oil potentially has a 300 year crop. That means it’s important to treat the land carefully.
“The beauty of this species of eucalypt is not only its ability to flourish in a harsh semi-arid region but also to re-grow after being harvested. Plantings re-grow after harvesting for approximately two to three years before being ready to harvest again. This facilitates a sustainable supply of trees on a rotational basis whilst providing other benefits to the natural environment,” he says.
In addition, the trees themselves protect the farmland from wind erosion and desertification, and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while the steaming process for oil extraction is powered by burning waste leaf from previous extractions and water used for steaming and for cooling is continually recycled through the production process.
With sustainability high on the agenda, Richard says the combination of excellent fuel efficiency, precision operation and productivity make his Kobelcos an invaluable part of the operation.
“You just can’t go past them for value for money,” he says. “They’re cheap to run and they have good trade in value even though we work them hard.”
He adds that the support he has received from LiftRite has been impeccable.
“They’re easy to deal with and they deal with issues straight away. On one occasion one of their techs drove 300 km out of his way to deliver a joystick. I was pretty fed up with poor service but LiftRite is different. I really rate them.”