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Impacts of pine species, stump removal, cultivation, and fertilization on soil properties half a century after planting

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To better understand the long-term effects of species selection and forest management practices on soil quality and soil C retention, we analyzed soil samples from an experimental planting of loblolly (Pinus taeda L.), longleaf (Pinus palustris Mill.), and slash (Pinus elliottii Engelm.) pines under different management intensities in Mississippi. The treatments included stump removal and cultivation (CULT), a one-time application of fertilizer combined with stump removal and cultivation (CULT+F), and a control (CON). After 49 years, pine species had no significant effect on any soil physical or chemical parameter examined, despite species differences in basal area. CULT exhibited significantly higher soil bulk density and lower soil C and soil N than CON and CULT+F in the upper 10 cm of soil. Stump removal is not a common practice in southern pine silviculture today; however, as demand for bioenergy fuels or feedstocks increases, more complete biomass utilization will be considered. Residual stumps play an important role in soil nutrient and C retention in pine plantations. Our results show that stump removal can lead to reduced soil C (–21%) and soil N (–35%) compared with controls, although it is possible to mitigate nutrient losses on poor sites with fertilization.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Southern Institute of Forest Ecosystems Biology, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Aiken Center, 81 Carrigan Drive, University of Vermont, Bington, VT 05405, USA. 2: Southern Institute of Forest Ecosystems Biology, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 3041 East Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, NC 27713, USA. 3: Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Asheville, NC 28804, USA. 4: Southern Institute of Forest Genetics, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Saucier, MS 39574, USA.

Publication date: April 12, 2012

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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