Main content area

Controlling Kalmia and reestablishing conifer dominance enhances soil fertility indicators in central Newfoundland, Canada

Moroni, Martin T., Thiffault, Nelson, Titus, Brian D., Mante, Christina, Makeschin, Franz
Canadian journal of forest research = 2009 v.39 no.7 pp. 1270-1279
soil organic matter, forest soils, tree growth, conifers, Kalmia angustifolia, soil fertility, pesticide application, herbicides, fertilizer application, NPK fertilizers, nitrogen, mineralization, nutrient availability, cation exchange capacity, forest canopy, vegetation structure, coniferous forests, woody weeds, weed control, Larix laricina, Pinus banksiana, Picea mariana, Newfoundland and Labrador
Growth rates of young conifers can be poor on disturbed sites dominated by Kalmia angustifolia L. Hence, a conifer revegetation trial was established on a Kalmia-dominated site to evaluate the effects of various silvicultural options and planted species on selected soil organic layer characteristics. Larix laricina (Du Roi) K. Koch, Pinus banksiana Lamb., and Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP seedlings were planted in plots with or without Kalmia control with herbicides. The effect of fertilizer amendment was also assessed. Seventeen years postplanting, organic layer fertility indicators suggest that soil fertility improved after Kalmia control and conifer reestablishment, especially if nitrogen (N) - phosphorus - potassium fertilizer was also applied. When Kalmia was controlled, aerobically mineralizable N and exchangeable sodium concentrations were increased; fertilizer addition to herbicided plots also increased exchangeable potassium and calcium concentrations, and cation exchange capacity compared with untreated control plots. Conifer height, diameter, and canopy closure were Larix > Pinus > Picea. Kalmia cover in control plots was 87%; Kalmia reinvasion in herbicided plots achieved 40%-43% cover but did not differ among the conifer species. Principal component analysis indicated that aerobically mineralizable N and total N were positively correlated with canopy closure. Our results suggest that increases in organic-layer fertility were related to increased conifer size resulting from Kalmia control.