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Forests 2015, 6(8), 2799-2819; doi:10.3390/f6082799

Juvenile Southern Pine Response to Fertilization Is Influenced by Soil Drainage and Texture

1
Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, 228 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2
ProFor Consulting, Cary, NC 27511, USA
3
Cooperativa de Productividad Forestal. Facultad de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad de Concepción. Victoria 631, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Heinz Rennenberg
Received: 1 July 2015 / Revised: 6 August 2015 / Accepted: 13 August 2015 / Published: 14 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrition of Trees and Forests)

Abstract

We examined three hypotheses in a nutrient dose and application frequency study installed in juvenile (aged 2–6 years old) Pinus stands at 22 sites in the southeastern United States. At each site, eight or nine treatments were installed where nitrogen was applied at different rates (0, 67, 134, 268 kg ha−1) and frequencies (0, 1, 2, 4 and 6 years) in two or four replications. Phosphorus was applied at 0.1 times the nitrogen rate and other elements were added as needed based on foliar nutrient analysis to insure that nutrient imbalances were not induced with treatment. Eight years after treatment initiation, the site responses were grouped based on texture and drainage characteristics: soil group 1 consisted of poorly drained soils with a clayey subsoil, group 2 consisted of poorly to excessively drained spodic soils or soils without a clay subsoil, and group 3 consisted of well-drained soils with a clayey subsoil. We accepted the first hypothesis that site would be a significant factor explaining growth responses. Soil group was also a significant factor explaining growth response. We accepted our second hypothesis that the volume growth-cumulative dose response function was not linear. Volume growth reached an asymptote in soil groups 1 and 3 between cumulative nitrogen doses of 300–400 kg ha−1. Volume growth responses continued to increase up to 800 kg ha−1 of cumulatively applied nitrogen for soil group 2. We accepted our third hypothesis that application rate and frequency did not influence the growth response when the cumulative nitrogen dose was equivalent. There was no difference in the growth response for comparisons where a cumulative nitrogen dose of 568 kg ha−1 was applied as 134 kg ha−1 every two years or as 269 kg ha−1 every four years, or where 269 kg ha−1 of nitrogen was applied as four applications of 67 kg ha−1 every two years or as two applications of 134 kg ha−1 every four years. Clearly, the sites examined here were limited by nitrogen and phosphorus, and applications of these elements to young stands effectively ameliorated these limitations. However, there were differences in the response magnitude that were related to soil texture and drainage. Juvenile fertilizer applications resulted in high stocking levels early in the rotation; this condition should be considered when undertaking juvenile fertilization programs.
Keywords: rate response; soil texture; soil drainage rate response; soil texture; soil drainage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Albaugh, T.J.; Fox, T.R.; Allen, H.L.; Rubilar, R.A. Juvenile Southern Pine Response to Fertilization Is Influenced by Soil Drainage and Texture. Forests 2015, 6, 2799-2819.

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