South Carolina Forestry Commission
Best Management Practices

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Fertilization

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An effort has been made to italicize technical words or phrases and clearly define them in the glossary.

Fertilization, a common practice in agriculture, is also useful for enhancing tree growth. The primary plant nutrients in silvicultural fertilizers are nitrogen and phosphorus. Phosphorus deficient sites are generally the poorly drained clays and sands of the Atlantic Coast flatwoods. These sites often exhibit dramatic responses to the phosphorus fertilizer. To determine the effectiveness of nitrogen fertilizers, factors such as soil moisture, soil depth, stand stocking, and existing nutrient levels must be considered.

Fertilizers can be applied safely with ground and air equipment. Research shows that little or no measurable increase in nitrogen or phosphorus occurs in streams following forest fertilization, provided care is taken not to apply the fertilizer directly on open water. With proper planning and site selection, forest fertilization poses little risk of environmental harm.

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