Woodland nutrition is complex. Different sites will have different requirements and it is often too expensive or impractical to address individual site requirements. A more general approach is often used, usually involving broadcast applications of rock phosphate on to sites.
This approach, however, has significant drawbacks:
- It is not targeted and weed species benefit too
- It is an expensive and dirty operation
- The potential for run-off and pollution of water courses is high, this also leads to economic loss
The application of a granular, coated fertiliser direct into the planting hole at the time of planting overcomes these problems in a simple and cost-effective way.
Figure 1: Typical harvesting site.
AlbaCote (15-25-6) is a uniquely formulated controlled-release fertiliser (CRF) containing Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) as well as vital trace elements for use in woodland planting – both new planting sites and restock sites.
N – involved in the production of new tissue. Good levels of nitrogen in the plant over winter provide a good start in spring.
P – vital for energy transfer processes in plant tissues and important for root development.
K – essential for growth processes including photosynthesis as well as being vital for plant hardiness.
How Does AlbaCote Work?
In contrast to other CRF products, each granule of AlbaCote has a uniform composition – it is NOT made up of individual straight fertiliser components. This provides a more even nutrient release pattern.
AlbaCote consists of a strictly controlled blend of nutrients surrounded by an elastic resin coat. The rate of nutrient release is directly affected by soil temperature.
In UK forestry conditions, AlbaCote will generally provide a gradual release over a period of two growing seasons. This is considered sufficient to get young roots growing healthily and in search of naturally occurring nutrients.
Figure 2: Diagram showing the nutrients contained within AlbaCote and how it works.
15% Nitrogen (3% as nitrate, 12% as ammonium)
25% Phosphate (P2O5)
6% Potash (K2O)
(16% Sulphur (SO3))
0.01% Boron; 0.05% Copper; 0.27% Iron; 0.06% Manganese; 0.015% Molybdenum; 0.015% Zinc
Guidelines on the application of fertiliser, produced by Scottish Environmental and Rural Services recommend that:
“Fertiliser must be applied on land in such a way and at such times that the risk of pollution to the water environment is minimised.”
The use of AlbaCote CRF directly addresses this requirement by the accurate placement of nutrients and the fact that it does not leach out under excessive waterlogged conditions.
The quantity of AlbaCote required per plant is much less than traditional ‘powdered’ fertilisers. In addition, AlbaCote is dry and clean to handle. Together, these make the application more cost-effective and less hazardous for planters.
AlbaCote is supplied in 1.2kg or 1.5kg bags, with only 10g per plant required at the time of planting.
Figure 3: 1.5kg bag of AlbaCote, with a 10g sample.
New Planting Sites
For a number of years Alba has been supplying CRF products to native pine schemes in the Scottish Highlands to aid establishment on what are often poor nutrient sites.
These sites are subject to strict controls to ensure minimal environmental impact. The application of our CRF products enables these objectives to be met whilst providing an excellent start for the young trees.
“The use of Alba’s CRF has made a significant difference to the success of establishing trees on poor nutrient status sites. Application of CRF has meant the difference between getting broadleaves established or not.”
John Mackay, Treeline Forestry Ltd, Inverness
Figure 4: Pine after 4 years – with CRF (Gairloch Estate)
Historically, little regard has been given to the potential benefits of CRF on restock sites where it is assumed residues from the previous crop will provide adequate nutrients for the replacement trees.
However, with an increase in residue harvesting, the widespread practice of burying residues and planting mounds becoming more commonplace this is no longer a safe assumption to make.
Slow early growth extends the period of risk for young plants – making them susceptible to vermin, weevils and weed competition. Ideally, plants should have sufficient vigour to overcome such threats in the first two years otherwise an extended maintenance period is likely with considerable additional costs.
The application of AlbaCote at the time of planting provides an early boost to both top and root growth – the latter leading to improved access to composting residues and naturally occurring nutrients.
AlbaCote trials have taken place on restock sites across the country, with encouraging results.
Figure 5: Results of AlbaCote trials conducted on 4 sites in the Scottish Borders.