FOREST INK: Fertilization to make up timber shortfall

FOREST INK: Fertilization to make up timber shortfall

A single fertilizer treatment can add about 15 cubic metres of wood per hectare within 10 years

By Jim Hilton

Since most of the articles on the government site on fertilization were prior to the wildfires of 2017/18, beetle impacts were stated as the main reason for creating severe mid-term timber supply problems in many management units.

According to one of the latest government publication on fertilization of B.C. forests: “The current forest fertilization program in the British Columbia Interiorfocuses on treating stands of Douglas-fir and spruce that range from about 20 years of age up to 70 years or older. Forest managers may consider fertilizing lodge pole pine stands in the future when mountain pine beetle populations have declined. Not all age-appropriate fir and spruce stands are fertilized, however. Candidate stands must be well-stocked, but stand density must be low enough that the tree crowns can expand after fertilization, which is necessary for increased tree growth. Provincial stand selection guidelines also require the consideration of the site’s natural productivity, the trees’ current amount of foliage, and other biological factors.”

A single fertilizer treatment can be expected to add about 15 cubic metres of wood per hectare within 10 years. Fertilization is considered one of the most effective treatments to maximize volume production and financial return. There are benefits to the forest under story as well. Shrubs and forage plants absorb some of the nitrogen not taken up by conifers, providing nutritional benefits to wildlife and livestock.

An article by Ralph Winter, May 24, 2006: “Mitigating timber supply impacts through strategic impacts through strategic Forest Fertilization” describes how many jurisdictions in similar latitudes (e.g., Sweden, Finland) have used fertilization effectively to improve timber supply.

The B.C. government has done 25 years of fertilizer research in the Interior and has published scientific information for several species, sites, and ages species and ages. Work has been done in close co-operation with universities, industry and others leading to good support for operational fertilization. Mr. Winters presentation looks mainly at Interior spruce best responses which showed a growth increasing 30-40 per cent over nine years.

The smallest growth responses are associated with highest site indexes and other limiting factors can be deficiencies in micro nutrients like sulphur and boron.

Read More: FOREST INK: Community forests have many advantages for rural communities

The downside of fertilization is that the fast growing trees are also more tasty for some insect and rodent pests. Caution also has to be taken when thinking of fertilization of some Interior pine stands which could be attacked by active pine beetle outbreaks.

Getting precise information on production increases is not easy and there is work being done on operational fertilization monitoring. An alternative monitoring protocol as described by a 2015 article by Rob Brockley where he answers the question. Are stand growth responses from the operational fertilization program consistent with fertilization research results?

I did not find any information on forest enhancement apart from commercial fertilizers so my subsequent articles will look at alternate ways of unceasing forest productivity like nitrogen fixing legumes and the importance of coarse woody debris.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

forestry

Just Posted

The Quesnel Seniors’ Centre is one of many locations people can vote in the Quesnel Rec Centre pool referendum. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Where to vote in the Quesnel pool referendum

Voters will head to the polls across the region today

The Rocky Mountaineer train will return to Quesnel on July 11. (Lindsay Chung - Observer File Photo)
Rocky Mountaineer will return to Quesnel on July 11

The passenger train will make its first stop in Quesnel since October of 2019

Category three fires are prohibited across the entire region covered by the Cariboo Fire Centre, including the Quesnel Forest District. (Cariboo Fire Centre)
Quesnel Forest District under stricter fire controls

Category 3 open fires have been prohibited by the Cariboo Fire Centre

Central Mountain Air will be landing in Quesnel five times a week starting on June 28. (Black Press File Photo)
Quesnel council waives passenger landing fees for Central Mountain Air

The first flight since April of 2020 will land in Quesnel on June 28

Jayden Emslie (right) with her grandmother. (Photo submitted)
A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read