Södra has been trialling a new machine in its forests to protect saplings from potentially fatal pine weevil damage, by coating them with wax.

The technology is described as the first of its type and applies a non-toxic wax to the saplings’ trunks which the pests cannot gnaw through to reach the bark. The wax itself is elastic, so the protection stays in place as the tree grows during the first season after planting when it is most vulnerable.

The machine has undergone tests by the company and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences at Södra’s forests in Falkenburg and is now being “calibrated for large-scale production”.

Andreas Alvehus of Södra’s plantation division Skogsplantor said the system would not only save the company money by preventing weevil attack, which kills 50% of unprotected saplings, it would also enable it to switch from chemical protection.

“Being able to offer a non-toxic, yet effective alternative to chemicals is eagerly awaited,” he said.