Quick Six - February

PF Olsen are back for the Agtech hackathon-Central Field Days 2020

Hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development (e.g. hardware/software engineers, mechatronics, graphic designersinterface designersproject managers etc), collaborate intensively on software projects.

The goal of a hackathon is to create a usable software or hardware product by the end of the event.

This year’s organising committee caught up with one of last year’s mentors Sarah Orton about PF Olsen's submission for this year’s challenge.

The interview can be heard online.

Russia now world’s largest exporter of softwood sawntimber

Russia has surpassed Canada to become the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber, and was on track to ship almost 32 million m3 of lumber in 2019 (23% of globally traded lumber in 2019), reports the Wood Resource Quarterly in its latest issue.

Global trade of softwood lumber slowed in the 3Q/19 but was still on pace to be higher than in 2018. Russia, Belarus, Germany and Finland have boosted their lumber sales the most this year, reports the WRQ. An excerpt from the newly released market report Wood Resource Quarterly reads.

Global Softwood Lumber Trade

  • Russia has surpassed Canada to become the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber, and was on track to ship almost 32 million m3 of lumber in 2019 (23% of globally traded lumber this year). Despite slowing economies in North America, Europe and Asia, lumber imports to these markets were higher in 2019 than in 2018.
  • Volume traded during the first nine months of 2019 represented the second lowest y-o-y increase for the period in eight years, according to the WRQ. Of the world’s ten leading exporting countries, Russia, Belarus, Germany and Finland have boosted their lumber sales the most this year.

Lumber Market – North America

  • Lumber production has fallen in both the US and Canada in 2019 because of disappointingly low activity in the US housing market and meagre demand for North American lumber in overseas markets. From January to September in 2019, lumber exports from Canada were down 5% y-o-y, while US shipments fell as much as 23%.
  • All the major lumber-producing companies in British Columbia have taken downtime this fall, causing production to plummet 19% in 2019.
  • Prices for softwood lumber were quite stable during the summer and fall in three of the four major lumber-producing regions of North America. Only in the US Northwest, where log supply has been tight and demand for lumber along the US west coast has stayed healthy, did lumber prices move up from their lower prices early in the year.

Lumber markets – China

  • China imported 15% more softwood lumber in the first nine months of 2019 than during the same period in 2018. Importation has trended upward for over five years.
  • Russia supplied 60% of the import volume to China in the 3Q/19, a slight decline from the 3Q/18. Imports from Canada rose 18% y-o-y and import volumes more than doubled from a few smaller suppliers this past year, including Germany, Ukraine and Belarus. Lumber import prices have fallen for three consecutive quarters to average $174/m3 in the 3Q/19, the lowest level since 2016.

    Source: Wood Resources International, www.WoodPrices.com

Dogs detect presence of harmful bacteria in citrus trees

Dogs specially trained by Agriculture Research Service (ARS) scientists have proven to be the most efficient way to detect huanglongbing—also known as citrus greening.

Currently, the only solid hope of curtailing the spread of citrus greening is to eliminate trees with the disease as quickly as possible to prevent further spread. Early detection of the citrus greening pathogen is crucial because trees can be infected and act as a source to spread the disease months or years before showing symptoms that are detectable by the naked eye.

ARS plant epidemiologist Timothy R. Gottwald with the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida, discovered that dogs can be trained to sniff out the presence of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, the bacteria that causes citrus greening, with greater than 99 percent accuracy.



China reduces tariffs on US wood products

The China Customs Tariff Commission issued a notice on 6 February 2020 stating that China will halve the additional tariffs on US$75 billion worth of some US products as of 14 February 2020 in a bid to promote the stable development of Sino-US economic and trade relations.

This decision will halve the 10% and 5% rates on a list of US products that were subject to additional tariffs from 1 September 2019.

The tariffs for 270 items listed in the first section and 646 items in the second section of Annex 1 to the Notice was adjusted to 5% from 10% and for the 64 items listed in the third section along with 737 items in the fourth section had tariffs adjusted to 2.5% from 5%.

Apart from the above-mentioned adjustment, the other measures to additional tariffs on US products will continue to be implemented.

The tariff rates on most of the logs and sawnwood imported from the US have been reduced to 5% from 10%. The tariffs on poplar sawnwood and other North America sawn hardwoods have been cut to 2.5% from 5%. The tariff rates on most imported wood-based panels, wood crafts and furniture have been halved to 2.5% from 5%. In addition, tariffs on most of the imported woodworking machinery, woodworking tools, agroforestry tools and forestry machinery from the United States will be halved to 2.5% from 5%.

Analysts write “this move is good for timber traders, wood processors and furniture manufacturers who have been suffering from trade conflict and also disrupted production and trade due to the coronavirus control measures.

Further adjustment will mainly depend on future development in the economic and trade relations between the two countries. The commission said other additional tariff measures will continue to be implemented as stipulated and they will continue to work on tariff exemptions for imports from the US.

Source: Woodweek

Nikola unveils the Badger-The worlds most advanced zero emission pickup truck

Unlike anything on the market, the advanced electric pickup is designed to target and exceed every electric or petrol pickup in its class. The Badger is engineered to deliver 980 ft. lbs. of torque, 906 peak HP and 455 continuous HP. The Badger will be built in conjunction with another OEM utilizing their certified parts and manufacturing facilities.

The electric pickup is designed to handle what a construction company could throw at it and is engineered to outperform all electric pickup trucks on the market in both continuous towing, HP and range. The Badger will be outfitted with a 15-kilowatt power outlet for tools, lights and compressors, which is enough power to assist a construction site for approximately 12 hours without a generator.

The Badger was designed to handle 0-100 mph launches with minimal loss of performance and to operate on grades up to 40% through advanced software blending of batteries and fuel-cell. With a fully loaded trailer and combined vehicle weight of 18,000 lbs., the Badger will be able to launch from a standstill on a 30% grade without motor stall.


Technology that destroys pests in wood moves closer to commercialization

A technology that uses dielectric heating and radio frequency energy to destroy destructive pests lurking within wood products is close

r to reaching the marketplace after a recent commercial trial at Penn State’s University Park campus.

The treatment offers enhanced ability to terminate wood insect and nematode pests compared to conventional heat practices, noted Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

RF treatment is more efficient and uses fewer resources than conventional kilns and chemical drying methods, and that is not only better for a company’s bottom line, but it is also better for the environment.”

Developed by Penn State scientists John Janowiak, professor of wood products engineering, processing and manufacturing, and Kelli Hoover, professor of entomology, the patent-pending, wood-treatment system heats wood in a unique configuration by using electromagnetic wave penetration, similar to that of a microwave oven.

It heats wood from the inside out, first causing the core temperature to elevate rapidly, making it an ideal method to destroy pests that have burrowed within, noted Hoover.