The effects of different regimes and frequencies of repeated fertilization on the foliar nutrition and growth of young lodgepole pine were investigated at five locations in central British Columbia. When applied at 6-year intervals to 9- to 15-year-old stands, two applications of nitrogen (totalling 400 kg N/ha), with and without other added nutrients, produced 12-year relative stand volume increments that were 7-36% higher than control values. In absolute terms, fertilized stand volume gains ranged from 8.5 to 17.2 m3/ha over 12 years. Yearly applications of N and other nutrients produced variable results, with 12-year relative stand volume increments ranging from 16% lower (-19.5 m3/ha) to 60% higher (22.8 m3/ha) than control values. Poor radial and height increment in some intensively fertilized treatment plots was typically associated with foliar nutrient imbalances (e.g., N/Cu, N/Mg) and lower growth efficiency (i.e., wood production per unit of leaf area). Overall, the 12-year results indicate that yearly nutrient additions are relatively ineffective and inefficient in stimulating the growth of young lodgepole pine. However, periodic application of balanced fertilizers to healthy, nutrient-deficient stands may be a viable strategy for increasing fibre yield, reducing rotation length, and sequestering carbon in managed lodgepole pine forests.
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Updated March 17, 2010