For Loblolly Pines, A Fertilization and Water Scarcity Paradox


Throughfall exclusion structure among loblolly pinesAs in natural forests, the growth of loblolly pines in plantations is limited by essential resources: sunlight, nutrients, and water. Fertilization — an increasingly common practice for adding nutrients to boost wood production — allows trees to shift their growth away from roots to leaves and stems. Since a tree is dependent on its roots to provide water, how does a fertilized tree respond when water supplies are limited in times of drought? Does increased productivity intensify water stress? To explore these questions, university and Eastern Threat Center researchers experimented with fertilization treatments and simulated drought during a two-year study in a loblolly pine plantation located in central Virginia. Their findings were recently published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: An exclusion structure allowed researchers to simulate a 30 percent rainfall reduction in the loblolly plots. Photo by Andy Laviner, Virginia Tech.


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