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Although other silvicultural treatments may redistribute volume and/or increase piece size and value, fertilization is the most proven method for increasing harvest volume and accelerating the operability of established stands. As such, fertilization is widely viewed by forest managers and practitioners as a potentially valuable tool for mitigating "pinch points" in the mid-term timber supply caused by age class imbalances, and for increasing long term harvest levels.
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unfertilized spruce

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fertilized spruce

During the past several decades, the B.C. Ministry of Forests has sponsored extensive research to determine the nutritional status of coastal and interior forests and to document the effectiveness of single and repeated nutrient additions on improving tree and stand growth across a wide range of species and sites. The biological basis for fertilizing forests is to supply nutrient elements that constrain tree growth. Fertilization research conducted by the Ministry of Forests has confirmed that nitrogen (N) deficiencies are widespread in B.C. forests, and that N additions often have a substantial positive effect on tree and stand growth. Other nutrient deficiencies, either induced or aggravated by N fertilization, have also been implicated as growth-limiting factors, especially in interior forests. For example, larger growth responses are often obtained by including sulphur (S) or boron (B) in fertilizer prescriptions for lodgepole pine.

Growth and yield data from area-based fertilization experiments is a vital source of data for treatment response predictions within managed stand growth and yield models. Over the long term, these field installations also provide data for checking a model's growth trends.

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Foliage mass response to fertilization

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Boron deficiency in lodgepole pine

Experimental Projects - Coast

EP Title # Inst. Year Establ.
703 Extensive Studies of Fertilizing and Thinning Coastal Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock 78 1971-1975
1097 Effects of Thinning and Fertilization on Growth and Yield of Coastal Sitka Spruce - Western Hemlock stands on the Queen Charlotte Islands 1 1991
1177 Whistler Biosolids Forest Fertilization Program 1 1993


Experimental Projects - Interior

EP Title # Inst. Year Establ.
886.01a Nitrogen fertilization of lodgepole pine 11 1981 - 1983
886.01b Nitrogen, sulphur and boron fertilization of lodgepole pine 4 1986
886.01c Nitrogen and sulphur fertilization of interior conifers 31 1992-2002
886.01d Fertilizer x thinning interactions in lodgepole pine 1 1992
886.01e Effects of nitrogen application rate on the growth of lodgepole pine 1 2000
886.04 Response of young lodgepole pine to spring and fall applications of urea and ammonium nitrate fertilizer 3 1984
886.05 Response of juvenile-spaced lodgepole pine to nitrogen and boron fertilization 1 1984
886.07 Response of a young interior spruce plantation to fertilizer application 1 1987
886.08 Interior spruce, Douglas-fir and western larch fertilizer screening trials in the British Columbia interior 27 1987-1988
886.09 Response of young lodgepole pine to nitrogen and sulphur fertilization 7 1988-1999
886.10 The effect of nitrogen and sulphur application rates and sulphur source on the nutrition and growth of lodgepole pine 2 1990
886.12 The effects of nitrogen, sulphur and boron on the nutrition, health and growth of immature lodgepole pine 1 1990
886.13 Maximizing the productivity of young forests in the interior of British Columbia 8 1992 - 1999
886.14 Effects of nitrogen source on the growth of lodgepole pine 1 1999
886.15 Sulphur fertilization of lodgepole pine: a stable isotope tracer study 2 2002


Fertilization Publications

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Last Modified: 2007 APR 20.  Ministry contact: Frank van Thienen