Increase of nutrient aviability

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Field fertilization can improve performance of planted seedlings (Ivetić and Devetaković 2016[1]). An organic amendment significantly improved seedlings growth (Grossnickle and Reid 1983[2]; Roldan et al. 1996[3]; Barberá et al. 2005[4]) with no apparent negative influence on seedling mycorrhization (Querejeta et al. 1998[5]). Effect of organic amendment can be species specific. Grossnickle and Reid (1982)[6] found that root system of 5-year-old Pinus flexilis James was not affected by the sewage sludge and wood-chips fertilization, but root system development of Pinus concorta and Picea engelmannii Parry. ex Engelm. was dramatically reduced. This reduction, however, was result of water stress rather than nutrient stress; because this ersatz soil created low soil bulk density conditions and reduced soil water movement to newly planted seedlings root systems (Grossnickle and Reid 1984[7]). There is a concern that fertilization will stimulate competitive vegetation. Because of that, fertilization should not be broadcast over the site, but rather only applied close to the seedling root system. Field fertilization using controlled-release fertilizer has emerged as an effective means of promoting early growth of planted seedlings (Jacobs 2014[8]). In order to use controlled-release fertilizers successfully, their formulation, release behavior, and environmental interactions must be understood (Rose et al. 2004[9]). At dry sites, fertilization can result with root dehydration and limited water uptake, because of increased fertilizer salts in the soil solution (Jacobs et al. 2004b). Decision about field fertilization in any reforestation project should consider many variables, including soil conditions, competitive vegetation, site drought level, and seedling species demands. These variables, as well as ephemeral nature of field site fertilization (Grossnickle 2000[10]), further emphasize that the decision making process must by project specific.


  1. Ivetić V, Devetaković J (2016) Reforestation challenges in Southeast Europe facing climate change. Reforesta 1: 178-220. DOI:
  2. Grossnickle SC, Reid CPP (1983) Ectomycorrhiza formation and root development patterns of conifer seedlings on a high-elevation mine site. Can J For Res 13: 1145-1158.
  3. Roldan A, Querejeta I, Albadalejo J, Castillo V (1996) Growth response of Pinus halepensis to inoculation with Pisolithus arhizus in a terraced rangeland with urban refuse. Plant Soil 179: 35–43.
  4. Barberá GG, Martínez-Fernández F, Álvarez-Rogel J, Albaladejo J, Castillo V (2005) Short- and intermediate-term effects of site and plant preparation techniques on reforestation of a Mediterranean semiarid ecosystem with Pinus halepensis Mill. New Forest 29 (2): 177-198. doi:10.1007/s11056-005-0248-6.
  5. Querejeta IJ, Roldán A, Albaladejo J, Castillo V (1998) The role of mycorrhizae, site preparation, and organic amendment in the afforestation of a semi-arid Mediterranean site with Pinus halepensis. Forest Sci 44: 203-211.
  6. Grossnickle SC, Reid CPP (1982) The use of ectomycorrhizal conifer seedlings in the revegetation of a high-elevation mine site. Can J For Res 12: 354-361.
  7. Grossnickle SC, Reid CPP (1984) Water relations of Engelmann spruce seedlings on a high-elevation mine site: an example of how reclamation techniques can alter microclimate and edaphic conditions. Reclam Reveg Res 3: 199-221.
  8. Jacobs DF (2014) Advances in fertilization for forest regeneration. In: Wilkinson KM, Haase DL, Pinto JR, (technical coordinators), National Proceedings: Forest and Conservation Nursery Associations—2013. Fort Collins (CO): USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Proceedings RMRS-P-72. pp 3-5.
  9. Rose R, Haase D, Arellano E (2004) Controlled-release fertilizers: potential for enhanced reforestation productivity. Bosque 25: 89-100.
  10. Grossnickle SC (2000) Ecophysiology of northern spruce species: the performance of planted seedlings. NRC Research Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 407 p.