Does coastal western hemlock respond to fertilization? Klinka, Karel
Response to fertilization is a function of the degree to which nutrients are limiting growth, the capacity of individual trees to respond to nutrient inputs, the degree to which other factors limit growth, and the possible extrinsic effects of treatment (e.g., root mortality due to fertilizer-induced soil pH effects). Recognition and examination of these factors is essential if response to fertilization is to be predictable. Over the past 25 years numerous western hemlock fertilizer trials have shown responses ranging from negative to positive with no clear trends. Theories for this erratic response include: (a) different nutritional requirements during different stages of stand development; (b) high native N availability or low supplies of other nutrients (P and S, in particular); (c) differential adverse effects of N fertilizers on surface roots, mycorrhizal populations and P nutrition; (d) a requirement for slow release N; and (e) induced water stress. The objective of this study was to develop site-specific guidelines for western hemlock fertilization decision-making for industrial use. This study reports on the first and third growing-season response to two different fertilizer treatments, and identification of possible relationships between fertilizer response and site and stand conditions.
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