Benefits of brash harvesting as biomass fuel demand grows

By Charlotte Gilfillan, Associate, Rural Land Management


Traditionally, brash has been a by-product from felling operations, acting as a mat for machinery before being either racked into rows, buried or burnt on site afterwards.

An increase in demand for biomass fuel has now created a market for brash harvesting, giving owners the opportunity to maximise revenues.

The brash is harvested and chipped on site and currently contractors will pay (site dependent) between £0.50 to £1 per tonne with an average of 50 to 60 tonnes per hectare being harvested.

The potential income from a site is limited, but there are a number of other important savings and benefits that can be gained from harvesting the brash. These include:

• Reduction in requirements for ground preparation.

• Reduced cover for browsing mammals, such as rabbits.

Easier access on site for future management.

• In areas where the site is also benefitting other users, like a commercial shooting operation or tourism, removal of the brash allows for improved access.

While this is an opportunity that can be explored before felling commences, in some instances it may be better to wait to see the ground conditions after harvesting. It is important to note that it will not be possible on all sites or for all species. Those on steep slopes and wetter areas will need to retain most of the brash to allow the machines access without causing unnecessary damage to the ground underneath. Spruce will work best given the volume of brash that is generated.

For advice on any aspect of land management contact Charlotte on 01863 766 683 or

Published on 15th August 2019