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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 67 No. 1, p. 300-308
    Received: Sept 10, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): vanrees@sask.usask.ca
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Nitrogen Accumulation by Conifer Seedlings and Competitor Species From 15Nitrogen-labeled Controlled-Release Fertilizer

  1. Ryan D. Hangsa,
  2. J. Diane Knightb and
  3. Ken C. J. Van Rees *b
  1. a Western Ag Innovations, 3-411 Downey Road, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 4L8
    b Dep. of Soil Science, 51 Campus Drive, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5A8


A major impediment to the establishment of outplanted conifer seedlings is competition for available soil N by early successional species. The objective of this field study was to determine the fate of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) N in soils with outplanted white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench] Voss.) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) seedlings, and the effect of weed control or vegetation management (VM) on fertilizer N accumulation. Nitrogen-15 labeled CRF was placed next to the seedling root plug during planting at four boreal mixed wood sites. After one growing season in the control plots, fertilizer N recovery as a percentage of 15N added was 4% in seedlings, 3% in competing vegetation, <1% leached, and 85% residual CRF. After two growing seasons, fertilizer N recovery was 15% in seedlings, 20% in competing vegetation, <1% leached, and 58% residual CRF. Overall, VM increased seedling fertilizer N uptake by almost 300% compared with conifer seedlings in control plots. In VM plots, fertilizer bags contained more N than in control plots after two growing seasons. In both treatments, >50% of the fertilizer N remained in the fertilizer bag, presumably remaining available in subsequent seasons. Calamagrostis (Calamagrostis canadensis) was the primary competitor for fertilizer N in both growing seasons, with minor competition from fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.), and aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.). The use of a point source CRF delivery method resulted in high fertilizer use efficiency (FUE), and minimized losses to competing vegetation and leaching.

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Copyright © 2003. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.67:300–308.