Sunday, November 25, 2012

Structural Root Decay: Another Reason to not be a Fan of High Nitrogen Fertilization

While browsing through Fungal Strategies of Wood Decay in Trees by Schwartze, Engels, and Mattheck, I came across an interesting piece of information.  The authors state decay progresses faster in wood with higher concentrations of nitrogen (N).  They then imply a correlation between high N fertilization and increased amount N in structural roots.  If these hold true applying fertilizers high in N, like many commercial tree and lawn companies, will actually speed up wood degradation by fungal decay agents and increase the risk of tree failure.

Now in cases where known root decay is present but not at the point where removal is considered necessary, some tree managers will recommend tree fertilization in an attempt to out grow, or at least stay pace with, the decay.  If the proper fertilizer analysis is not recommended we may actually be speeding up the decay process.  Custom fertilizing based upon the results of a soil sample is really the best practice when specific tree health goals are priority.

Mmmm nitrogen.

1 comment:

  1. I would add that a complete diagnosis for the purpose of prescription fertlilization would include a foliar tissue sample. But you can't go wrong by aerating soil in the critical root zone and adding organic material (compost, wood chips).