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    Description

    Loblolly pine plantations are the most important source of forest products in the US and the slash remaining after conventional harvest represents a significant potential source of bioenergy. However, slash removal in intensive harvests might, under some circumstances, reduce site productivity by reducing soil organic matter and associated nutrients. Two complimentary studies in the Gulf Coastal Plain of the southeastern US were designed to test whether harvest intensity (level of biomass removal) could have a negative long-term impact on site productivity. Harvesting tree crowns in addition to the merchantable bole had a negative impact (18%) on pine biomass accumulation by age 7-10 years on 15 of 19 research blocks. Sites at risk of harvest-induced reductions in productivity were relatively unproductive prior to harvest and had low soil phosphorus (P) concentrations. Intensive harvesting, fertilization, and chemical control of non-crop vegetation were all energy efficient; the additional biomass energy gained through these practices was two-orders of magnitude greater than the energy needed to conduct the activities. Harvest of slash for bioenergy in the Gulf Coastal Plain of the southeastern US has the potential to reduce productivity on infertile soils, but fertilization has the potential to restore and even improve productivity on those sites in an energy-efficient way.

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    Citation

    Scott, D. Andrew; Dean, Thomas J. 2006. Energy trade-offs between intensive biomass utilization, site productivity loss, and ameliorative treatments in loblolly pine plantations. Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol. 30: 1001-1010

    Keywords

    bioenergy, whole-tree harvesting, energy efficiency, fertilization, long-term soil productiviity

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