Forest landowners learned how to manage their forests to preserve water quality during a recent field day at the LSU AgCenter's Calhoun Research Station near Ruston, La.
Gary Stockton, an LSU AgCenter watershed agent, said best management practices, known as BMPs, are important in running a clean forest operation.
“Planning should be first on your list,” Stockton said. “Planning is required to incorporate BMPs into a forest operation. This plan should maximize efficiency, minimize traffic, preserve soil integrity, and protect water quality.”
Using diversion ditches is one way to implement a best management practice, Stockton said.
“Diversion ditches are extremely effective,” he said. “They should be used as often as possible to get water off the road and to protect streams.”
Landowners should make sure the diversions carry water away from the road and any nearby stream, Stockton said.
Culvert maintenance also is important to prevent washouts from occurring and creating significant sediment loads in streams, he said.
In addition to those points, Stockton talked about the importance of road construction and drainage, soil stabilization, erosion control and sediment control structures.
Another LSU AgCenter faculty member participating in the meeting told participants how the state's largest animal industry may be able to help them in their work in the state's largest overall agricultural industry.
While forestry is the state's largest industry based on agriculture and natural resources, the poultry industry is Louisiana's No. 1 animal industry. Forestry was a $3.2 billion industry in Louisiana last year, and poultry production contributed nearly $968 million to the state's economy.
Although they may seem to have little in common, LSU AgCenter county agent Matt Stephens of Union Parish said the 100 tons of poultry litter generated each year in the state's 2,000 poultry houses may have benefits for the forest industry.
That litter can be used to increase water-holding capacity, increase water infiltration rates, increase microbial activity, reduce erosion from wind and water and neutralize the soil, he said.
Preliminary research on using poultry litter to fertilize pine trees showed the survival rate increased 6 percent for those fertilized with poultry litter at planting and provided with weed control measures. The height of the trees also was greater for the fertilized stands when weed control was implemented, he said.
There is some public concern about using poultry litter for fertilizer, Stephens said, adding these concerns include phosphorus loading in soils, phosphorus runoff into area streams, nutrient leaching into groundwater sources, odor, pathogens and ammonia being released into the environment.
Field day participants also were treated to a tour of five stands of pine trees planted at the Calhoun Research Station in 1990. This tour consisted of an explanation of stand response to initial spacing by Steve Hotard, LSU AgCenter forester, and a discussion on spacing and natural pruning by Mark Hebert, International Paper Forest Resources researcher.
Early pine plantings respond to initial stocking rates in many ways, Hotard said. Trees planted at different spacings show unique characteristics, which reflect the stand's ability to withstand natural climatic conditions, wind, ice and drought, as well as the ability to produce quality wood, he said.
For more information on this and other issues related to agriculture, natural resources, family life, youth development and many more, visit the LSU AgCenter's Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.