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Dana Mitchell

Project Leader
Forest Operations Research to Achieve Sustainable Management
521 Devall Drive
Auburn, AL 36849-5418
United States
334-826-8700 x123
Current Research

Biomass harvesting, collection and storage is one of the primary focus areas of Dr. Mitchell's current research. In a large project involving many research partners, she investigated the use of young pine plantations for biomass. This project included a wide variety of topics including equipment design and selection, harvesting production studies, chip van design and testing, log truck design and testing, and transpirational drying. In other projects, she investigated the use of various ways to bundle and bale low-value forest residues. By densifying forest residues into a form that is compact and easy to handle, costs to transport the woody biomass material to an end-user facility can be reduced.

Short rotation woody crops are another source for woody biomass. These purpose-grown trees are managed in a variety of ways with a range of planting densities (trees per acre, single or dual row) and management types (single stem or coppice). These different management decisions impact how and when the biomass can be harvested. Dr. Mitchell continues to investigate research topics surrounding equipment selection and the impact of type of cutting mechanism (shear or saw) on coppice response.

Another current area of research is in harvesting and utilizaton of downed timber.  Hurricane and other wind events can damage trees in a number of ways including breakage, fiber pulls, ring shake, splits, and root pulls.  Dr. Mitchell, along with other reseach scientists and collaborators, is investigating the impacts that salvage harvesting has on the production rates and costs of traditional logging operations.  They are exploring equipment modifications that may improve the efficiencies of harvesting downed timber.  Another aspect of this study is to test the use of acoustic technology to aid in determining wood quality in damaged stems.  HIstorically, visual damage has been used to make product separations during harvesting.  Acoustic technology may offer new opportunities for sorting forest products or aid determining the soundness of wood over time, perhaps even lengthening the time window for harvesting marketable products.  

Other areas of research include the use of extended working hours in logging operations to evaluate production rates and impacts on forest workers; small scale forestry options for small tracts; and pinyon-juniper harvesting options to improve/restore rangeland vegetation.

  • Auburn University, Ph.D., Forestry,
  • Oregon State University, M.F., Forest Engineering,
  • Washington State University, B.S., Forest Management,
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  Council of Forest Engineering,  1994 - Current
    Attend meetings, moderate sessions, and present current research findings. Assisted in compiling the proceedings papers from the 2010 Annual Meeting.
  • Various Positions,  American Society of Agricultural Engineers,  2005 - 2010
    T-12 (Forest Engineering) Committee member, Past Secretary, Past Chairperson.
Other Publications
Research Highlights

A Simple Technique to Improve Woody Biomass Quality

Year: 2014
The commercial markets for biofuels and bio-based products will require cost-competitive raw materials to compete with rival energy sources. The Forest Service continues to work on identifying ways to improve feedstock logistics. In 2014, Forest Service scientists examined a method to improve biomas...