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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Effects of mechanical site preparation and slash removal on long-term productivity of conifer plantations in Sweden

Hjelm, Karin; Nilsson, Urban; Johansson, Ulf; Nordin, Per


Mechanical site preparation is commonly used to increase survival and early growth of newly planted seedlings. Ideally, any early positive effects of site preparation should persist for a long time, but concerns have been raised as to whether intensive site preparation might have a negative effect on the long-term productivity of a stand. The present study was therefore designed to investigate the long-term effects of different site-preparation methods on productivity and determine any possible interactions with tree species and site fertility. In the 1980s, a randomized block experiment was established at sites throughout Sweden. Four site-preparation methods of various intensities were performed on different sites: (i) an untreated control, (ii) disc trenching, (iii) mounding, and (iv) ploughing. As a complementary treatment, slash was either retained or removed from some plots. Depending on soil moisture class, geographical position, and site index, Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), or lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon) were planted in pure stands. Growth variables such as height and diameter were measured during the first years after establishment. After about 30 years, these variables were remeasured at the level of individual trees. Overall, an increased production of the planted trees after site preparation was found. Neither intensive site preparation (such as ploughing) nor slash removal had any negative effect on the long-term productivity of these experimental stands.


disc trenching; establishment; mounding; ploughing; regeneration; seedling;

Published in

Canadian Journal of Forest Research
2019, Volume: 49, number: 10, pages: 1311-1319