Arwyn Morgan reports on all the forestry action during the Royal Welsh Show 2019 at Llanelwedd.


THIS year marked the 100th year of the Royal Welsh Show. While I started attending the show many years ago, I don’t go back that far.

Of interest was the continual migration of forestry products into the mainstream show ground, perhaps a reflection of forestry becoming more mainstream in rural life, rather than outside competition to the livestock industry.

One of the traditional characteristics of the Welsh is their non-conformism, which has proved a blessing and a hindrance. It has given them a strength of character, but it has also brought about disunity, particularly in the land-use sector. However, this year saw far more unity, with Confor leading the way. It arranged a variety of events and presentations uniting the various non-government organisations in a positive way. One point it highlighted is that many large upland farms could easily plant areas of between 5–10 hectares, without affecting their agricultural viability, yet the benefits provided by such new planting would help to improve the sustainability and viability of those farms.

The new regional agent for Confor is Anthony Geddes, coming from a background of land and timber management and recycling, making him well suited for the post. There are challenges to be faced with the new Glastir scheme, as well as increasing plantings to provide a sustainable base for future development of more sustainable housing using locally grown, sustainably sourced wood.

Of potential use to some new woodland plantings would be Coed Cymru’s carbon certification scheme. Once again, there would be a need to look at the small print, but it is a potential income-generating avenue.

On the machine front was Mervin Thomas on the D.A. Hughes stand with Sunward tracked diggers. Made in China, the range goes from small mini-diggers to 50-tonne monsters. Post Brexit, there could be far greater opportunities to import such machines direct. All the Sunward machines are built to a high specification, with no need for extra add-ons.

On the D.A. Hughes stand were details of their excavator-based assist winches, while the well-known T-Winch tracked unit was on display. John Deere had a Haas system installed on one of its forwarders, with the fairlead situated at the back of the machine. The winch spool is encased in metal under the forward set of bunks on one side, while on the other side is another spool containing a nylon rope, designed to pull the wire rope up a hill via a snatchblock, saving the driver having to drag a long, heavy wire rope uphill. The Ponsse assist winch system was encased in the chassis beneath the bunks.

Also on the Ponsse stand was a Daewoo excavator which had been converted to forestry use and offered around a £100k saving on its purpose-built brother. R.J. Fukes had a system that uses a quick-fit attachment to be installed on a 25-tonne base unit, totally remotely operated, holding close to 500 m of wire rope. John Fukes was keen to highlight the current lack of legal guidelines as to the use of assist winches, so the makers of their assist winch have followed the New Zealand standards.

Also on the R.J. Fukes stand was Logset’s largest harvester, sporting some 500 horses under the bonnet with a hybrid diesel/electric system offering good fuel efficiency savings.

It was a good show, where one of the highlights was when the axemen had a race against the sheep shearers – and the axemen won. Let’s hope that’s a positive portent for the future!