Effects of competition control on Douglas-fir biomass and nitrogen content

W.D. Devine and several co-authors have published “Five-year vegetation control effects on aboveground biomass and nitrogen content and allocation in Douglas-fir
plantations on three contrasting sites (Forest Ecology and Management 262:2187-2198). The abstract follows.

“Despite widespread use of intensive vegetation control (VC) in forest management, the effects of VC on allocation of biomass and nutrients between young trees and competing vegetation are not well understood. On three Pacific Northwest sites differing in productivity, soil parent material, and understory vegetation community, we evaluated year-5 effects of presence/absence of 5 years of VC on allocation of aboveground biomass and nitrogen (N) between planted Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) and competing vegetation. Equations for predicting bole, branch, foliar, and total dry weights based on stem diameter at a height of 15 cm and total tree height did not differ significantly among sites or by presence or absence of VC. This contrasts with previous research, using diameter at breast height rather than at 15 cm, which found that separate equations were warranted for trees with and without competing vegetation. Estimated whole-tree biomass among the six site/VC combinations ranged from 0.8 to 7.5 Mg ha-1, and increases in tree biomass associated with VC ranged from 62% to 173% among sites. Among the three sites, there were positive, linear relationships between soil total N content to a depth of 60 cm and both N content of aboveground vegetation (trees plus competing vegetation) and Douglas-fir foliar N concentration. Tree N content increased by 8.4, 8.2, and 40.0 kg N ha-1 with VC at the three sites, whereas competing vegetation N content decreased with VC by 0.9, 18.8, and 32.0 kg N ha-1, respectively, at the same sites. Thus, VC did not lead to a direct compensatory tradeoff between aboveground N content of trees and other vegetation.  However, soil N content was linearly related to N accumulation and plant growth across the three sites. In addition to differences in N availability among sites, the effect of VC on the redistribution of resources among trees and competing vegetation also was influenced by vegetation community composition and efficacy of VC treatments.”

Support for this study has been provided by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, Pacific Northwest Stand Management Cooperative, Weyerhaeuser Company, Green Diamond Resource Company, Port Blakely Tree Farms LLC, and NCASI.


Contact information