Calhoun Field Day Highlights Forestry Turfgrass Research

Michael Blazier, Nipper, W. Allen, Koske, Thomas J., Hotard, Steven L., Coolman, Denise  |  4/26/2005 8:28:45 PM

News Release Distributed 10/27/04

CALHOUN – Soil is an important factor in the forest ecosystem, and participants in a field day held recently at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station learned how to use good forest management practices to maintain the soil on their property.

Bill Patterson, a professor at the Louisiana Tech University’s School of Forestry who spoke during the Oct. 21 field day, said soil properties govern how soils drain or hold water, as well as how they hold and supply nutrients. These factors determine what trees and plants will grow in an area, how productive they will be and how the trees will support or limit forest and wildlife management, he said.

"Site productivity is determined to a large extent by soils and by our management of these soils," Patterson said. "Good forest management maintains the soils in providing rooting, aeration, water supply, nutrition and protection of water quality."

Long-term site and soil productivity can be sustained by following best management practices, he said.

Nutrient cycling in loblolly pine plantations was another topic discussed at the field day. Dr. Michael Blazier, a researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Hill Farm Research Station in Homer, discussed the effects of fertilization and the removal of organic matter on pine tree stands.

"On nutrient-deficient soils, fertilization through inorganic and/or organic sources is a viable management option for forest owners," Blazier said. "Repeated applications, however, may induce changes in the nutrient cycling processes of the soil. Likewise, pine straw raking can increase revenues from forests but alter nutrient cycling processes."

According to Blazier, many forests in the Ark-La-Tex grow on soils that are low in nutrients. Landowners wishing to increase the value of their timber can increase nutrient availability to their trees by applying "modest investments" of fertilizer – either commercial fertilizer or animal waste, he said.

"Similarly, forest owners who wish to supplement their timber harvest revenues may rake pine straw," Blazier said. "However, both of these management practices, if done annually, may alter the nutrient capital and cycling processes of the soils.

Forest landowners also can make extra money by raising livestock in their tree stands, according to the experts.

This practice called "silvopasturing" combines trees with forage and livestock production. The trees are managed for high-value sawlogs and at the same time provide shade and shelter for livestock and forage – reducing stress on the animals and sometimes increasing forage production.

"With this practice, we’re finding we can do more with less land," said Steve Hotard, an LSU AgCenter area forester. "This will help producers get more use out of their land by allowing them to produce more than one crop on the same plot."

Turfgrass was another topic covered at the field day. Dr. Tom Koske, an LSU AgCenter agronomist, said proper variety selection and proper maintenance will provide an attractive and sustainable lawn.

"People often choose the wrong grass for a difficult site and do not adopt appropriate best management practices," Koske said. "The environment can be modified to suit the variety of grass, or the grass can be replaced with another variety.

"The best management practices selected should suit both the variety and the environment. By doing this, homeowners will have the best turf cover and minimize extra costs, efforts and pollution, as well as stress on the environment."

In addition to information about selection and care of turfgrass, other presentations included discussions on the most common lawn weeds, insects found in turfgrass, turfgrass diseases and the care and maintenance of lawn equipment.

Research in turfgrass is a new area of emphasis at the LSU AgCenter’s Calhoun Research Station. Researchers will be directing their studies toward turfgrasses used by both homeowners and professional turfgrass managers.

For more information, or to get a copy of the summaries of the presentations given at the field day, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/inst/research/stations/calhoun/.

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Contacts:
Michael Blazier at (318) 927-2578 or mblazier@agcenter.lsu.edu              
Steve Hotard at (318) 644-2662 or shotard@agcenter.lsu.edu               
Tom Koske at (225) 578-2222 or tkoske@agcenter.lsu.edu              
Allen Nipper at (318) 644-2662 or anipper@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:   
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 644-5865 or dcoolman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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