Determination of fertility rating (FR) in the 3-PG model for loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantations in the southeastern United States
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Soil fertility is an important component of forest ecosystem, yet evaluating soil fertility remains one of the least understood aspects of forest science. Phytocentric and geocenctric approaches were used to assess soil fertility in loblolly pine plantations throughout their geographic range in the United States. The model to assess soil fertility using a phytocentric approach was constructed using the relationship between site index and aboveground productivity. Geocentric models used physical and chemical properties of the A-horizon. Soil geocentric models were constructed using two modeling approaches. In the first approach, ordinary least squares methods of multiple regression were used to derive soil fertility estimated from site index using soil physical and chemical properties from the A-horizon. Ordinary least squares methods were found unsuitable due to multicollinearity among the soil variables. In the second approach, a multivariate modeling approach, partial least squares regression, was used to mitigate multicollinearity effects. The best model to quantify soil fertility using soil physical and chemical properties included N, Ca, Mg, C, and sand percentage as the significant predictors. The 3-PG process-based model was evaluated for simulating the response of loblolly pine to changes in soil fertility. Fertility rating (FR) is a parameter in 3-PG that scales soil fertility in the range of 0 to 1. FR values estimated from phytocentric and geocentric approaches were tested against observed production. The 3-PG model prediction of aboveground productivity described 89% percent of the variation in observed aboveground productivity using FR derived from site index and 84% percent of the vari- ation in observed aboveground productivity using FR derived from physical and chemical properties of the A-horizon. A response function to model dynamics of FR (∆FR) due to one time midrotatoin fertilization of N and P was developed using the Weibull function. The magnitude of ∆FR varied with intensity of N and time since application of fertilizer. The hypothesis that repeated fertilization with N and P eliminate major nutrient deficiency in the southeastern US was tested and a relationship between baseline fertility rating and fertilizer response was developed. An inverse relationship was observed between fertilizer response and baseline FR.
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