Effects of fertilization and irrigation on American sycamore and black locust planted on a reclaimed surface mine in Appalachia

Joshua S. Brinks, John M. Lhotka, Christopher D. Barton, Richard C. Warner, Carmen T. Agouridis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Short rotation woody biofuel plantations on reclaimed surface mines in Appalachia can diversify domestic energy supplies and facilitate the reforestation of these disturbed lands. This study examined growth, survival, biomass accumulation and allocation, and nitrogen concentrations following two growing seasons in American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) seedlings receiving irrigation, granular fertilization, and irrigation. +. fertilization compared with untreated controls. Fertilization increased basal diameter, height, and stem mass of American sycamore following two growing seasons. Increased stem production was attributed to accelerated development and not shifts in biomass allocation due to treatment. Irrigation and irrigation. +. fertilization treatments did not enhance growth or biomass accumulation of American sycamore. Similarly, black locust basal diameter, height, and stem mass did not differ among the treatments. Browse surveys showed that more than 76% of black locust seedlings experienced arrested or retrogressed growth due to browse; less than 3% of American sycamores were browsed. This intensive browse by ungulates, likely including reintroduced elk, may have affected growth differences among species and confounded the effects of treatments on black locust. Survival was unaffected by treatment in both species, but mean survival was greatest in American sycamore (80%) compared to black locust (58%). Per tree total nitrogen uptake was highest in fertilized American sycamore (7.9. g) and lowest in irrigated American sycamore (0.9. g). The results of our study suggest that granular fertilizer applications can accelerate seedling growth on reclaimed surface mines in the Appalachian region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)640-648
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the Kentucky Governor's Office of Energy Policy for funding this work. We would like to thank Trinity Coal for granting access to the study site and for their assistance with site establishment. We also thank Songlin Fei, Otto Hoffman, and Donald Graves for their important contributions to this project. Finally, we extend our gratitude to Matt Strong, David Parrott, Lee Moser, and Courtney Mastin for their help in the field.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biomass allocation
  • Reforestation
  • Short rotation silviculture
  • Woody biomass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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