98 Forest Productivity and Management

Forest Productivity and Management

The tables in this section can help forest owners or managers plan the use of soils for wood crops. They rate the soils that support trees according to the limitations that affect various aspects of forest management.

In tables 7 through 11, interpretive ratings are given for various aspects of forest management. The ratings are both verbal and numerical.

Some rating class terms indicate the degree to which the soils are suited to a specified forest management practice. Well suited indicates that the soil has features that are favorable for the specified practice and has no limitations. Good performance can be expected, and little or no maintenance is needed. Moderately suitedindicates that the soil has features that are moderately favorable for the specified practice. One or more soil properties are less than desirable, and fair performance can be expected. Some maintenance is needed. Poorly suited indicates that the soil has one or more properties that are unfavorable for the specified practice. Overcoming the unfavorable properties requires special design, extra maintenance, and costly alteration. Unsuitedindicates that the expected performance of the soil is unacceptable for the specified practice or that extreme measures are needed to overcome the undesirable soil properties.

Numerical ratings in the tables indicate the severity of individual limitations. The ratings are shown as decimal fractions ranging from 0.01 to 1.00. They indicate gradations between the point at which a soil feature has the greatest negative impact on the specified forest management practice (1.00) and the point at which the soil feature is not a limitation (0.00).

Rating class terms for fire damage and seedling mortality are expressed as low, moderate, and high. Where these terms are used, the numerical ratings indicate gradations between the point at which the potential for fire damage or seedling mortality is highest (1.00) and the point at which the potential is lowest (0.00).

The paragraphs that follow indicate the soil properties considered in rating the soils for forest management practices. More detailed information about the criteria used in the ratings is available in the “National Forestry Manual,” which is available in local offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service or on the Internet. (http://nsscnt.nssc.nrcs.usda.gov/nfm/)

For limitations affecting construction of haul roads and log landings, the ratings are based on slope, flooding, permafrost, plasticity index, the hazard of soil slippage, content of sand, the Unified classification, rock fragments on or below the surface, depth to a restrictive layer that is indurated, depth to a water table, and ponding. The limitations are described as slight, moderate, or severe. A rating of slight indicates that no significant limitations affect construction activities, moderate indicates that one or more limitations can cause some difficulty in construction, and severe indicates that one or more limitations can make construction very difficult or very costly.

The ratings of suitability for log landings are based on slope, rock fragments on the surface, plasticity index, content of sand, the Unified classification, depth to a water table, ponding, flooding, and the hazard of soil slippage. The soils are described as well suited, moderately suited, or poorly suited to use as log landings.

Ratings in the column soil rutting hazard are based on depth to a water table, rock fragments on or below the surface, the Unified classification, depth to a restrictive layer, and slope. Ruts form as a result of the operation of forest equipment. The hazard is described as slight, moderate, or severe. A rating of slight indicates that the soil is subject to little or no rutting, moderate indicates that rutting is likely, and severeindicates that ruts form readily.

Ratings in the column hazard of off-road or off-trail erosion are based on slope and on soil erodibility factor K. The soil loss is caused by sheet or rill erosion in off-road or off-trail areas where 50 to 75 percent of the surface has been exposed by logging, grazing, mining, or other kinds of disturbance. The hazard is described as slight, moderate, severe, or very severe. A rating of slight indicates that erosion is unlikely under ordinary climatic conditions; moderate indicates that some erosion is likely and that erosion-control measures may be needed; severe indicates that erosion is very likely and that erosion-control measures, including revegetation of bare areas, are advised; and very severe indicates that significant erosion is expected, loss of soil productivity and offsite damage are likely, and erosion-control measures are costly and generally impractical.

Ratings in the column hazard of erosion on roads and trails are based on the soil erodibility factor K, slope, and content of rock fragments. The ratings apply to unsurfaced roads and trails. The hazard is described as slight, moderate, or severe. A rating of slight indicates that little or no erosion is likely; moderate indicates that some erosion is likely, that the roads or trails may require occasional maintenance; and that simple erosion-control measures are needed; and severe indicates that significant erosion is expected, that the roads or trails require frequent maintenance, and that costly erosion-control measures are needed.

Ratings in the column suitability for roads (natural surface) are based on slope, rock fragments on the surface, plasticity index, content of sand, the Unified classification, depth to a water table, ponding, flooding, and the hazard of soil slippage. The ratings indicate the suitability for using the natural surface of the soil for roads. The soils are described as well suited, moderately suited, or poorly suited to this use.

Ratings in the columns suitability for hand planting and suitability for mechanical planting are based on slope, depth to a restrictive layer, content of sand, plasticity index, rock fragments on or below the surface, depth to a water table, and ponding. The soils are described as well suited, moderately suited, poorly suited, or unsuited to these methods of planting. It is assumed that necessary site preparation is completed before seedlings are planted.

Ratings in the column suitability for use of harvesting equipment are based on slope, rock fragments on the surface, plasticity index, content of sand, the Unified classification, depth to a water table, and ponding. The soils are described as well suited, moderately suited, or poorly suited to this use.

Ratings in the column suitability for mechanical site preparation (surface) are based on slope, depth to a restrictive layer, plasticity index, rock fragments on or below the surface, depth to a water table, and ponding. The soils are described as well suited, poorly suited, or unsuited to this management activity. The part of the soil from the surface to a depth of about 1 foot is considered in the ratings.

Ratings in the column suitability for mechanical site preparation (deep) are based on slope, depth to a restrictive layer, rock fragments on or below the surface, depth to a water table, and ponding. The soils are described as well suited, poorly suited, or unsuited to this management activity. The part of the soil from the surface to a depth of about 3 feet is considered in the ratings.

Ratings in the column potential for damage to soil by fire are based on texture of the surface layer, content of rock fragments and organic matter in the surface layer, thickness of the surface layer, and slope. The soils are described as having a low, moderate, or high potential for this kind of damage. The ratings indicate an evaluation of the potential impact of prescribed fires or wildfires that are intense enough to remove the duff layer and consume organic matter in the surface layer.

Ratings in the column potential for seedling mortality are based on flooding, ponding, depth to a water table, content of lime, reaction, salinity, available water capacity, soil moisture regime, soil temperature regime, aspect, and slope. The soils are described as having a low, moderate, or high potential for seedling mortality.

 

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