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The importance of repeating the message

Wink Sutton's Blog
Thursday, November 29, 2012

My article on page 42 on the sawing of Hull’s pruned radiata raises a very relevant point. Even though I was involved in the preparation of Fenton’s report on his 1962 sawmill study, I had completely forgotten the relevance of that work. However, as I remembered Brown’s report, I always thought that the sawing of Hull’s trees was the first sawing of pruned radiata logs.

In my defence I want to say that Fenton’s report was not published until 1967. Although technically accurate the title was very general and gave little indication of what the paper was really about. Being a technical paper I very much doubt if anyone actually read the complete report. And if they did, I doubt if anyone gave much thought about the implications.

When I was a scientist at the Forest Research Institute (now Scion) I spent 20 to 25 per cent of my time visiting forests, giving talks and lectures and taking visitors around. Even though these activities took me away from my research they contributed greatly to my work. I have published many scientific papers and written many branch reports. I slowly became acutely aware that few of my publications had been read in full and more importantly, my writings were having little effect on operations. Forest managers do not have time to read research reports and even more importantly, they rarely have the training, experience or even the ability to interpret the practical implications of a scientific study.

By talking to other than research staff you soon found out if your research was relevant. Talking with practitioners often led to subtle, and occasionally big changes in your research.

The Director of Production Research, Harry Bunn, was an enthusiastic supporter of researchers getting out of the ivory tower of research and testing ideas with field staff. Harry knew from experience the value of forest visits, of field demonstration areas, meetings and of symposiums.

I had many arguments with Bob Fenton about the repetition of research findings. Bob was very much against scientists who repeated, by way of writings and talks, the same message. Encouraged by Harry Bunn we did just that and I am convinced we were right to constantly and consistently say the same thing. I was once at a meeting and, although I was out-numbered by those who held a different view, I repeated my usual message. The audience laughed. When I asked others why everyone seemed to laugh I was told almost everyone was expecting me to say what I did. When selling toothpaste, hamburgers, pizzas, travel agencies, one advertisement achieves nothing but repeating may prove effective. The same is true for effective scientists.

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Heartwood formation and eucalyptus

Dean Satchell's blog
Monday, November 26, 2012

Denis Hocking emailed the EAG committee with this on 26 November 2012:

Hi folks, Just a note on E. longifolia. Knocked over an 18 yr old specimen yesterday hoping to get some posts out of it. Only got firewood, hardly a hint of heartwood. It was a somewhat suppressed tree up on a dune, so not a top specimen, but disappointing. So cut down an adjacent E. globoidea of similar size and also suppressed, only about 3 growth rings of sapwood so plenty of heart. Don’t know how general this might be for E. longifolia.

This appears to be general for symphyomyrtus group species. Although my experience is limited I have found this applies to E. saligna, E. longifolia, E. quadrangulata and even E. bosistoana (although I’ve only cut down two 10 year old trees). There seems to be a certain age where symphyomyrtus species suddenly put on heartwood. I’d guess 25 years. I thought I had heartwood (appeared that way) in a 8 year old quadrangulata but 5 years later the whole thing was rotten. Not so with 12 year old E. macroryncha (stringybark, monocalyptus group), 5 years on the ground and the heart is still sound while the sap has completely rotted away. 10 year old E. sphaerocarpa (monocalyptus) only has 1 cm of sapwood and shows why the EAG needs to continue our focus on monocalypts and stringybarks. Of course there is also E. cladocalyx, a truly remarkeable species for heartwood, the symphyomyrt exception but not really related to what we know as symphyomyrts.

One of Jim Coxes 25 year old E. longifolia had fallen down recently and we cut it open, the heartwood content was reasonable. Ten year old thinnings had no heart. Ben McNeil just dropped a few 10 yr old quadrangulata and sent me some pics because he couldn’t see any heartwood in these, which aligns with my experience. Monocalypts have a narrow sap band. Even at 25 years saligna has a big sap band, frustrating for the saw miller, who wants red heartwood!

Disclaimer: Personal views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the NZ Farm Forestry Association.

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