Impacts of pine species, stump removal, cultivation, and fertilization on soil properties half a century after planting
To better understand the long-term effects of species selection and forest management practices on soil quality and soil C retention, we analyzed soil samples from an experimental planting of loblolly (Pinus taeda L.), longleaf ((Pinus palustris Mill.), and slash ((Pinus elliottii Engelm.) pines under different management intensities in Mississippi. The treatments included stump removal and cultivation (CULT), a one-time application of fertilizer combined with stump removal and cultivation (CULT+F), and a control (CON). After 49 years, pine species had no significant effect on any soil physical or chemical parameter examined, despite species differences in basal area. CULT exhibited significantly higher soil bulk density and lower soil C and soil N than CON and CULT+F in the upper 10 cm of soil. Stump removal is not a common practice in southern pine silviculture today; however, as demand for bioenergy fuels or feedstocks increases, more complete biomass utilization will be considered. Residual stumps play an important role in soil nutrient and C retention in pine plantations. Our results show that stump removal can lead to reduced soil C (–21%) and soil N (–35%) compared with controls, although it is possible to mitigate nutrient losses on poor sites with fertilization..