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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Runoff Farming for Growing Christmas Trees1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 47 No. 5, p. 983-987
    Received: Feb 3, 1983
    Accepted: Feb 23, 1983

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  1. D. H. Fink and
  2. W. L. Ehrler2



Runoff farming was used to grow two species of conifers [Quetta pine (Pinus eldarica) and Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica)] in a semiarid climate on a sandy soil treated with wax and a clay soil treated with sodium chloride salt. The treated runoff-contributing areas were varied in length to provide a water supply estimated initially to be two, three, and four times the normal 300-mm annual precipitation. Twenty-five trees were planted per species per site per water-level treatment for a total of 300 trees. Thirty-seven percent of them (110 trees) were harvested after only three growing seasons. Eighty-nine percent (67 trees) of the Arizona cypress on the sand-wax site were marketable, and the remaining 43 trees were from the other three species/site locations. Large differences in tree growth existed among the four species/site locations. The best trees were the cypress grown on the sand-wax site. Most of the cypress on the clay-salt site were 1 to 2 years behind those at the sand-wax site. The Quetta pines grew best on the clay-salt site where 24% were marketable in 3 years, with most of the remaining projected to be marketable by year four. The pines grew poorly on the sand site suffering > 50% mortality on the two lower water treatments. Only the cypress on the sand-wax site showed a significant statistical difference in tree growth as related to water level. Runoff farming shows promise of becoming a practical and practicable method for growing Christmas trees and many other crops in arid and semiarid lands where water is scarce.

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