[ezg] how different timber rots

  • From: Stephen Butler <stephencbutler@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ezg@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2021 21:57:19 +0100

Ramial chipped wood
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Hi folks, there was a post recently about different timber for biofloors.

I was looking at ramial chipped wood - a term I was not familiar with - and
thought the wiki info as below was interesting for this, though also
generally interesting for us horticulturalists anyway!

You may need to speak French to read much more!


*Ramial chipped wood* (*RCW*), also called *BRF* (from the French
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_language> name, bois raméal
fragmenté, "chipped branch-wood"), is a type of woodchips
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodchips> made solely from small to
medium-sized branches <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branch>. The adjective
"ramial" refers to branches (rami). RCW is a forest product
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_product> used in agriculture
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture> for mulching
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulch> and soil enrichment
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil_conditioner>. It may be laid on top of
the soil <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil> (as in mulching
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulch>), mixed into it (as a green manure
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_manure>), or composted
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost> first and then applied.

RCW consists of the twigs and branches of trees
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree> and woody shrubs
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrub>, preferably deciduous
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deciduous>, including small limbs up to
7 cm. (23⁄4 in.) in diameter. It is processed into small pieces by chipping
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodchipper>, and the resulting product has
a relatively high ratio of cambium
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambium_(botany)> to cellulose
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulose> compared to other chipped wood
products. Thus, it is higher in nutrients and is an effective promoter of
the growth of soil fungi <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungi> and of
soil-building <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedogenesis> in general. The
goal is to develop an airy and spongy soil that holds an ideal amount of
water and resists evaporation and compaction, while containing a long-term
source of fertility. It can effectively serve as a panacea for depleted and
eroded soils.

The raw material is primarily a byproduct of the hardwood
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwood> logging
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logging> industry, where it was
traditionally regarded as a waste material. Research
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research> into forest
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest> soils
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soils> and ecosystems
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystems> at Laval University
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laval_University> (Quebec
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec>, Canada
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada>) led to the recognition of the value
of this material and to research into its uses.

Usable types of wood[edit

The wood from heartwood and branches larger than 3 inches in diameter is
not desirable due to its high C/N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-to-nitrogen_ratio> (averaging 600:1),
which then requires additional nitrogen for decomposition. Only the sapwood
and young branches from the various noble hardwoods (such as oak, chestnut,
maple, beech, and acacia) are used because the heartwood in larger branches
is high in tannin <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tannin>.

Because of their specific lignin <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lignin>,
conifers <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conifer> may be used only in
combination with deciduous RCW, and in no greater ratio than 10 to 20%.
Conifer resin <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resin> has no aggradation
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggradation> character because it consists
of derivatives of diterpenes <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diterpene> (resin
part) and monoterpenes <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoterpene> (part
turpentine). Note that only the genera *Pinus
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus>*, *Picea
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picea>*, *Larix
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larix>* and *Pseudotsuga
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudotsuga>* have resin canals. The cedars
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_wood> are characterized by their
constituents of the heartwood toxic to microorganisms, tropolone
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropolone> derivatives (thujaplicines)
phenolic nature, and are therefore to be avoided in the production of
ramial chipped wood.

The acidification of soils by RCW has not been observed. In contrast,
acidic soils tend to have their pH raised by RCW applications.

While some species, such as black locust
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinia_pseudoacacia> and black walnut
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juglans_nigra>, bear heartwood containing
resins that make them resistant to rot; in practice their RCW decomposes
well on a moist soil. Even *Larix <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larix>*,
which resists decomposition and is also a conifer, promoted successful
forest regeneration in Quebec and was found to be the best of the conifer
for use in RCW (even better than some hardwoods).
Composition of RCW[edit

Because they are the most exposed part of the tree to the light, and the
most actively growing, young branches (and young trees) used in RCW are
from the richest parts of the trees. They contain 75% of the minerals,
amino acids, proteins, phytohormones and biological catalysts (enzymes)
found in the tree.

   - Lemieux, G. & Lapointe R. A. "Le bois raméal et les mécanismes de
   fertilité du sol"; Laval University, Quebec, Canada; 1986; 17pp; OCLC
   <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OCLC_(identifier)> 24214663
   <https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/24214663> - the seminal paper that
   introduced the term
   - Regenerating soils with ramial chipped wood

Stephen Butler
183, Palmerstown Avenue
Dublin D20 AD83
00353 87 75 69 818

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