Site preparation effects on soil moisture and available nutrients in a pine plantation in the florida usa flatwoods

Burger, J.A.; Pritchett, W.L.

Forest Science 34(1): 77-87


ISSN/ISBN: 0015-749X
Accession: 006423546

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Burning and mechanical preparation of cutover forest sites enhances pine plantation establishment, but soil and site changes in southeastern forests have not been well documented. Two site-preparation treatments (burned-chopped and burned-bladed-harrowed-bedded) were applied to plots on a Florida flatwoods site. Harvesting caused a rise in the water table, and during the drier times of the year, the more intensively prepared plots had a higher water table than the chopped plots. Despite lower total nitrogen reserves after two growing seasons on the more intensively prepared plots (770 versus 1020 kg ha-1), ammonium and nitrate levels in the soil solution were twice that of the chopped plots; as a result, foliar-N levels of two-year-old planted seedlings were 0.93 versus 0.85%, respectively. Soil solution phosphorus levels averaged ten times higher and potassium averaged five times higher on the intensively prepared plots compared to the chopped plots. Total biomass of the competing vegetation two years after harvest was 1489 kg ha-1 on the intensively prepared plots compared to 3548 kg ha-1 on the chopped plots. At the end of the second season there was no difference in survival between the two treatments, but stem volume of trees on the intensively prepared plots was 2.8 times greater. This superior growth response elicited by intensive preparation was attributed to better moisture conditions, higher levels of available nutrients, and less competition.