Preparing a property for bushfires involves a lot of cleaning up and removing combustible material, and to do that on a large scale quickly requires machinery.
Gary Dunlop from Ag & Earth told us about the tractor attachments, or whole tractor, you can hire (with or without driver) to make the job much more practical.
“The forestry mulcher will handle [organic material] up to 8 inches or 200mm,” Gary says.
“That machine is used for invasive weed control and for clearing fire trails and fence lines and open areas.”
That means it can clear land, but in doing so “it will shred the material rather than burn it, then you can actually do something with the land, so it’s great for fire control because it basically creates a fire break,” he says.
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“The machine is operated from inside the tractor, and it can work on a range of tractors from 90 to 130hp”.
Gary noted that you don’t need any tickets to drive it and if you’re competent with machinery already you’d be able to learn it fairly quickly, otherwise it’s much safer to just book the whole package with driver as well.
In terms of technique to prepare for a bushfire, Gary indicated you should refer to the RFS guidelines for your area to come up with the requirements for your property.
Essentially, Gary notes you’d start at the building you intend to protect and work your way out from there to the designated distance, and for safety reasons taking into account the slope of the terrain to be cleared.
Fire trails “are basically a safe exit to a safe area.” Most are 3 metres wide, and Gary mentioned that you would have a discussion with your local RFS to identify a safe area, and to map out a path for the firetrail that leads there.
Whenever he creates a clearing or firetrail “I just do [it to] the specs [which] the owner has already got from the RFS,” Gary says.
The tractor package also has an arm on the back that will clear material up to 2 inches or 50mm in hard-to-reach places like verges as well as on steep slopes. “It reaches out to 6 metres, and is [also] operated from inside the tractor.”