MORRISBURG -- Local farmers Bill and Cindy Byker have chosen an unconventional way to clear out some land they bought this spring. Instead of burning the brush and trees, they have chosen to turn the debris into wood chips.
The land, some 200 acres just west of Morrisburg along County Road 2, had once been used as agricultural land Bill Byker speculated, as the land contained fence lines.
Byker chose the unique way to clear the land for many reasons.
"We have done some conventional clearing with burning in the past but here with the proximity to the town, County Road 2, Highway 401 and the rail and with the predominately westerly winds, we thought it was prudent to do it this way. For the safety of the community," said Byker.
Byker also stated he knew the contractor personally as he had been a neighbour. Kyle Spruit had recently started up Chip It Land Clearing and this was a good opportunity for both Byker and Spruit.
"I knew he would do a good job and be responsible," said Byker. Lucky for Byker, he also was able to get a buyer for the wood chips who will be turning the chips into particle board.
"Being able to sell the wood makes more sense economically," said Byker.
Byker said that each land clearing comes with its own dynamic and economics and economically, this case worked out reasonably well.
"It might have been cheaper to do it the conventional way," said Byker, "but then you have the burning and clean up. This way they clean it right to the ground and we can go in and tile drain it and work it right away."
The land had already been zoned for agricultural use and Byker said they have already contacted the township of their intent to turn he land back into agricultural fields.
"We've also been talking to the South Nation Conservation to make sure we are doing everything in compliance with the requirements," he said.
Byker said they were putting together a full drainage plan that will be reviewed by SNC and the township in case there were any alterations to ditches or the clean up to remain in compliance.
"The plan is to get it ready for planting next spring," he said. "Our aim is to get 100 per cent corn in there."
While the clearing has been going relatively well, Byker said the wet weather did hold them up a bit.
"It impacted the progress, but now we are making headway in getting things opened up and dryed out," said Byker.
"That is important too because you don't want to mud the tile drainage or do damage to the soil with compaction," he added.
Byker said the past few weeks they have seen a lot of progress.
"It was hard to see the progress before because of the fence lines and trees," he added, "but it's like house-cleaning, sometimes it looks messier before it gets better."
While Byker was thinking about his neighbours not having to deal with the smoke from burning, he also is keeping them in mind when it comes to the noise involved with chipping the wood. The location of the wood chipper was chosen with good neighouring in mind. It will be placed at the back of the land.
"We wanted to put it back there mostly for the noise, but also most of the wood is back there," said Byker.
Byker added that when you work close to the community you have lived in for a number of years, there is a need to be sensitive to the people of the community and be responsibl.
"Even with the noise we want to minimize it as much as possible," said Byker.
Byker said the decision to do it this way, with chipping, was because he wanted to do it right. He is looking at this as a long-term investment and wanted to make sure it was done properly. He was also confident in his choice of contractor saying their business had just started up and they have already done other projects with good results.
"There is risk with every system. I just felt this is a nice system and I think he is getting into this business at the right time with a lot of people reclaiming farm land," said Byker.