Forest Activity

Fertilizing our Tree Farm

Like any farmers, we fertilize.  This spring we applied fertilizer to 2,000 acres of our tree farm.

A helicopter pilot uses GPS to spread the fertilizer

A helicopter pilot uses GPS to spread the fertilizer in the correct area.

Forests benefit from essential nutrients like nitrogen to grow well just like a vegetable garden.  In some places of Oregon, like the Cascade Mountains, the natural soils are lacking in available nitrogen.  This holds the trees back from growing to their full potential.  Fertilizing with nitrogen increases the trees’ capacity to grow needles and branches, which in turn increases wood growth.

A healthy tree that has all of the nutrients it needs is better prepared to fight off pests, diseases and environmental stresses.  Since 50% of a tree’s weight is carbon, a boost in tree growth is also a boost in carbon sequestration while creating even more oxygen.

Improving the soil to enhance yield has been a reality since man began producing crops some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. An early Greek writer described it as “adding heart to the soil.”

We apply nitrogen fertilizer up to three times during the life of a forest stand.  The fertilizer is similar to the products used on neighborhood lawns and gardens.  A helicopter is employed to spread the fertilizer evenly across the forest stand.  The bucket used is quite similar to an old-fashioned lawn spreader.

Fertilizer is shipped in highway trucks commonly used to transport grain to a site close to the tree farm and transferred into off-highway trucks.  The helicopter hovers over the back end of the truck where each load is weighed and dumped into the spreader hanging from the helicopter.  The pilot flies to the forest stand and uses GPS technology to spread the fertilizer in the correct area.

Today, modern technology helps us carry out this age-old task of fertilizing.