Citywide News

‘Sugar hit’ could be the best medicine for trees

by Citywide | 25.08.2011
Even though Australia’s drought conditions may be over, tens of thousands of established trees are still at risk of premature death. Water can take months if not years to permeate to the trees root system. Recent rainfall may have replenished our water storage levels and helped green our lawns, however many of our much treasured assets are still waiting for this precious commodity to reach them.

To compound this problem, drought has severely affected the soil’s ecology. Dry soil has many adverse ecological consequences. Enzyme activity is generally lower resulting in decreased production of essential plant nutrients. The decomposition process involving plant residues and soil organic matter is restricted through the lack of water which traditionally serves as a ‘base’ for the matter to blend and chemically react.

Steve Jones (Operations Manager / Arborist for Stonnington and Port Phillip tree contracts) has recently devised an innovative technique to ‘fast track’ enzyme activity and provide much needed nourishment to stressed trees.

Armed with the knowledge of recent studies showing the introduction of carbohydrates directly into the soil can lead to an increase root mass, Steve commandeered one of Citywide’s AirRaider machines, and has been applying sugar solutions in the form of molasses directly into the root systems.

Steve’s hunch was that a well devised carbohydrate treatment could be used to stimulate growth in the soil.

Essentially, the addition of the Carbohydrate with water adds a food source to help promote reactivation of the soil ecology. This is critical for the release of essential nutrients which aren’t available to trees in a useable form. Many tree species have beneficial interactions with mycorrhizae fungi. Carbohydrate treatments can promote these interactions benefiting both parties even during tree dormancy. After many years of drought, the soil ecology around many parts of the country has been shown to be dormant.

“Carbohydrates are initially synthesized in plants from a complex series of reactions involving photosynthesis. They provide energy through the plants metabolism pathways and cycles, supply carbon for synthesis of other compounds, and form structural components in cells and tissues. Simply speaking, this process helps trees to eat again,” said Steve.

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