This job is on a farm that has been over grown through the years, the farmer needed this pasture for his livestock which was to over grown for the farmers tractor to bush-hog. At one time North Carolina had far more acreage under production than we do now. Some of the land no longer in farmland was developed for industrial and residential purposes and other land was abandoned because it was unprofitable to cultivate. This land was allowed to grow up to brush and shrubs which were, in turn, replaced by trees. This is why, when hiking through what is now forest in North Carolina, one often comes upon stone walls. These stone walls were built when this land was farmed.
Now farmers are again clearing woodlands, which are less expensive to purchase than open lands, and reclaiming them for agricultural use. Often this is a part of a timber harvest or cordwood harvest sequence. Clearing land can have many benefits; it also can be quite costly. Anyone clearing land has many factors to consider.
The topography of the land should be the first consideration. If it is rocky or ledge, very rolling, swampy or very poorly drained, will it be worth putting into production in the first place? To help you decide whether the land is good for agricultural purposes, you can consult soil survey maps of the area. These maps will tell you the soil type, drainage, slope, general topography, and what kind of crops it is best suited for.
Your town’s Wetlands Commission is legally entitled to review any proposed activity which may affect a wetland or watercourse, including farming and forestry activities. A determination whether such activity qualifies as an exempt agricultural use must be made. Clear cutting of trees for the expansion of crop land and construction of roads, provided they are directly related to the farming or forestry operation are permitted “as of right” and do not need a permit, however, always check with your local agencies to be sure! In addition to checking with the local, state, county wetland commission, farms should also check with their USDA Service Center before clearing near wetlands. Land clearing activities could put them in violations of the conservation provisions of the farm bill, thus jeopardizing their eligibility to USDA programs.
Once the decision has been made to clear the land, the first thing you have to deal with is the trees and brush. The trees will have to be cut for timber or firewood and the brush then piled and put through a grinder. These chips have a potential retail value. Land that is heavily wooded and hasn't been touched for a generation or so may have up to ten thousand board feet of lumber per acre on it. You can sell this standing timber to loggers for a price of $32 - $290 per thousand board feet, depending on the species and quality. Higher prices are offered for hardwoods and lower prices for softwoods.
You might also have a lot of cordwood that you could cut, depending on how much timber you cut first. You should be able to cut from five to ten cords per acre. This cordwood may have little value, or you could cut it yourself to realize additional returns. (Another means to get rid of the trees is to simply push the trees over and pile them with a bulldozer. This would increase clearing costs and probably shouldn't be done, considering the value of the wood.)
The next job to take is removing the stumps. This is best done with a bulldozer. You can dig them out or possibly pull them out with a backhoe or tractor, but this would be quite time consuming. Removing the stumps is usually the most costly job in clearing land. You will need a fair sized bulldozer with a root rake. Machines are needed to clear land, including removal of stumps off-site and final grading. The work one of these machines can do in an hour is quite impressive, you can't appreciate what they can accomplish in an hour. One of these large machines can have a 12-inch diameter stump out in a matter of seconds! Think how long you would have to dig, cut and pull to get a stump like that out with a farm tractor.