- Abell, David H.
University of Maine Graduate School
A recently cut forested area in Sebec, Maine, was fertilized with single and combination applications of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium during June, 1971. Selected vegetation was analyzed for nutrient content in April, August, and December.
The vegetative composition of the predominately hardwood study area was found to be extremely variable. The most prevalent tree species were red maple and balsam fir, while important shrubs were beaked hazel, raspberry and blackberry and the most abundant herbaceous species were wild sarsaparilla, rose twisted-stalk, bracken fern, ground pine, running pine and wile lily-of-the-valley.
Low fertility levels were found in the Plaisted and Thorndike soil types occurring on the study area, and since these soil types are a major association in forested regions of northern Maine, low soil fertility levels may exist in a large portion of white-tailed deer habitat in that part of the State.
Levels of crude protein and phosphorus available in browse species on the study area were minimal or slightly below levels suggested as optimum for growth and development of deer. Vegetation responded to nitrogen fertilization by having consistently and significantly higher (P≤.05) crude protein levels. Phosphorus treatment resulted invariable phosphorus uptake by plants, and potassium treatment had little effect on potassium levels in the vegetation sampled. Calcium, magnesium, aluminum, manganese, molybdenum, zinc, copper, iron and boron levels in vegetative parts analyzed varied within and between species but were within the ranges suggested for domestic ruminants. Twigs had wider calcium-phosphorus ratios than did foliage, and fertilization with phosphorus did not consistently reduce these ratios.
In vitro digestion trials showed no consistent trends in digestibility due to fertilization. Significant differences in digestibility were found between species analyzed, however, with balsam fir having the highest percentage digestible dry matter followed by red maple and beaked hazel.