This feeds into his second caveat, the inability to hire loggers for low-volume harvesting. Following conventional forestry practices, loggers remove one-quarter to one-third of the trees in a timber stand every 10 to 15 years. For loggers, this is an economical way to cut trees. Says Francisco, "If you only want to cut down one tree per acre per year, it is going to be very hard to find a logging contractor willing to do that."
However, for landowners who are willing to cut their own trees and have all the requisite machinery, Francisco thinks Birkemeier's system could be a moneymaker. "With all the processing concepts available, a landowner could make money," he says. "It's a good system for a do-it-yourself entrepreneur, but not many landowners are Jim Birkemeier."
Ready to start? Birkemeier recommends a minimum of 50 acres. Equipment will cost between $100,000 and $250,000 dollars, he says, but not to worry: "The investment pays off in one to two years."