Project Code: ALPAC-01-018
Program: FRIP
Area:Applied Research
Sponsor:Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
Region:NE Alberta
Project Status:Complete

Object & Deliverables

The goal of this project was the identification of the key factors affecting the early establishment and growth of native balsam and hybrid poplars and developing appropriate silviculture prescriptions for intensive plantations. The report summarizes the results of various trials investigating the growth and physiology of planted poplars.
Study objectives included developing rooting methodologies for dormant cuttings; developing first year fertilizer strategies for hybrid poplar plantations; optimizing site preparation techniques to enhance growth & establishment of poplars, and investigating the relationships between fertilizer application, leaf nutrient status, water-use efficiency, and gas exchange rates.
There were 13 trials established to gather the data necessary to achieve the project objectives. Trial results demonstrated improved nursery production by increasing rooting success of dormant cuttings by 35 percent. As well, optimal unrooted cutting size for direct plant was determined to be 25-30cm in length, and the use of balsam poplar cuttings to reclaim roads proved viable.

Final Report

The fertilization combinations tested did not significantly improve growth and in some cases reduced growth. Greenhouse testing showed that growth can be increased by selecting ammonium-N or nitrate-N depending on soil pH.
Mounding was found to extend the growing season by 2-3 weeks, however it also decreased surface soil moisture and decreased survival by 10 percent. The increased mortality can be reduced by avoiding mounding sites susceptible to drought conditions. Mounding with the incorporation of mill bio-solids was found to significantly increase soil moisture and overall growth of plantations.
The addition of nitrogen increased drought stress resulting in growth reduction. In the field trials, the no-fertilizer treatment significantly increased growth contrary to expectations. It was not possible to establish a relationship between gas exchange traits and field performance. In the greenhouse, nitrogen fertilization increased net assimilation, nitrogen content, and growth.
Study results are contained in a thirty-four page final report that summarizes accomplishments entitled “Growth and Physiology of Early Establishment of Poplars in North Eastern Alberta” authored by Annie DesRochers and Barb R. Thomas dated May 2003.
Additional scientific articles and reports that emanated from this Study are as follows:
“Nitrogen Fertilization of Trembling Aspen Seedlings Grown on Soils of Different pH” by Annie DesRochers, R. van den Driessche, and Barb R. Thomas published in the “Canadian Journal of Forestry” March 2003.
“Reclamation of Roads and Landings with Balsam Poplar Cuttings” by Annie DesRochers, BarbThomas, and Roger Butson November 2002.
“A Comparison of Pre-Planting Treatments on Hardwood Cuttings of Four Hybrid Poplar Clones” by Annie DesRochers and Barb R. Thomas printed in “New Forests” November 2002.
“Rooting Ability of 34 Hybrid Poplar Clones Available to Alberta-Pacific” by Annie DesRochers and Barb Thomas October 2002.
“Greenhouse Rooting Test on Stored Operational Cuttings Spring 2002” by Barb Thomas.
“Rooting Protocol for Greenhouse and Field Planting of Dormant Poplar Cuttings” by Annie DesRochers and Barb Thomas May 2003.
“Best Practices for Poplar Farms Operations” by Barb Thomas and Annie DesRochers May 2003.