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Keywords:

  • forest fertilization;
  • forest nutrition;
  • liming;
  • mine reclamation;
  • phytotoxicity;
  • Pinus jeffreyi;
  • reforestation

Abstract

Controlled-release fertilization with two formulations, Forestcote 22-4-6 + Minors and Gromax 21-6-2 + Minors, and dolomitic lime were evaluated for their capacity to facilitate establishment and enhance nutrition of bareroot Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi Grev. & Balf.) on an acidic Sierra Nevada surface mine. All amendments were applied at outplanting to the backfill of augered planting holes, with a low rate of 8 g and a high rate of 16 g per seedling for the two fertilizer formulations, whereas a single rate of 30 g was used for lime. Liming induced excessive seedling mortality throughout the study, whereas both fertilizer formulations also reduced survival but only as an interactive effect with the lime amendment. Growth stimulation by the fertilizer applications was readily apparent after three growing seasons, with the response to the high rate surpassing that to the low rate and the response to the Forestcote formulation exceeding that to Gromax. Conversely, the lime amendment depressed seedling growth, and it is likely that a propensity to exacerbate the stress imposed by dry growing season soils through interference with water uptake accounts for the overall poor performance of the seedlings that received this amendment. Improved N and P nutrition, with the former likely the most critical, was largely responsible for the growth stimulation resulting from fertilization. However, this treatment also suppressed the absorption of certain micronutrients as well as that of Al, and the amelioration of potential phytotoxicities may have also contributed to the favorable performance of fertilized seedlings. Further evidence for this conclusion was supplied by base cation/metallic element molar ratios involving Al and Mn, which were frequently increased by fertilization. In contrast, the influence of the lime amendment on seedling nutrition was marginal, with positive responses too infrequent to improve seedling performance.