Mechanical Treatments

TitleMechanical Treatments
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsBennett, M, Fitzgerald, S
Series TitleReducing Hazardous Fuels on Woodland Property
Document NumberEC 1575-E
Date Published08/2008
InstitutionOregon State University
CityCorvallis, OR
Keywordsextension publications and factsheets, fuels and fuel treatments

Many manual and mechanical methods are used to reduce hazardous fuels on woodland properties. This publication describes three of the most common methods:

  • Slashbusting and grinding
  • Mowing and mastication
  • Crushing

Mechanical methods use several types of equipment to chop, chip, crush, or otherwise break apart fuels—such as brush, small trees, and slash—into small pieces or chips. The processed fuels carpet the ground, forming a relatively dense, compact layer of woody material. The material may be integral to the prime mover or may be then is left to decompose or is burned.Mechanical treatments can reduce the potential for destructive crown fires by:

  • Reducing “ladder” fuels, due to the gap created between surface fuels and crown fuels
  • Reducing the oxygen supply to fuels, thus reducing the potential for ignition and fire spread

Mechanical fuels reduction may be used either as a stand-alone treatment or to “step down” fuels before prescribed burning.