story to find out more.
To determine the
effect of tree spacing on pine straw yield and growth rates, agronomist David
Burner measures tree diameter while technicians Karen Chapman and Jim Whiley
measure pine straw yields from 1-meter-square grids. Click the image for
more information about it.
Forest-Friendly Ways to Get More From Pine
Pons July 7, 2006
Pine is an important part of the U.S. lumber and paper industries. But
it has an economic drawback that its growers know all too well: It can take 30
years or more for a pine stand to mature and turn a profit.
That's why Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists
Burner are working on environmentally friendly strategies that commercial
pine growers can use to get the most from their stands. Pote, a soil scientist,
and Burner, an agronomist, conduct their research on 60 acres of pine planted
at and near the
Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in Booneville, Ark.
One aspect that they concentrate on is harvesting fallen pine needles
as "straw" for use as landscaping mulch. A main goal is helping growers
supplement their income from their pine stands while still keeping the stands'
environment intact and viable.
According to Pote, pine straw tends to interlock and stay in place
better than most other mulches while still retaining a loose, open structure
that allows air, nutrients and water to easily reach the soil surface. So he's
concerned that forests and watersheds from which pine straw is harvested could
suffer from the loss of these benefits.
Pote's studies showed that although harvesting pine straw increases
runoff, soil erosion and some nutrient loss, these impacts can be softened by
less-frequent harvesting. He noted that growing forage under the pine-tree
canopy to hold soil in place when straw is removed is a conservation method
Meanwhile, Burner is studying how spacing and fertilization of trees
affects pine straw yield. He's also examining how wider applications of
agroforestry practices involving pine can boost income from millions of farm
acres that are of marginal quality for crop production.
His focus is on silvopasturing, a practice that combines tree-growing
with forage and livestock production.
about the research in the July 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.