Growing forestry nutrition advice

Everything you need to know about fertilising forestry, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more.

Nutrition advice for growing forestry

  • Forestry generally performs best in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH level ranging from 5.5 to 7.5

  • Forestry typically thrives in well-drained, loamy soils with good fertility.

  • Forestry grows best in temperate climates with moderate temperatures, typically ranging from 10°C to 27°C.

  • Forestry generally requires ample sunlight exposure. Most species prefer full sun conditions, receiving at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

  • Forestry prefers consistently moist soil, but not waterlogged.

  • Forestry requires a balanced intake of nutrients to ensure healthy growth, robust fruit development, and disease resistance.

The Significance of Forestry

Forestry holds a crucial place in the environmental and economic landscape of the United Kingdom, serving as a vital resource for timber production, biodiversity conservation, and carbon sequestration. With vast forested areas spread across the country, forestry plays a pivotal role in providing sustainable wood products, supporting wildlife habitats, and mitigating climate change through carbon storage and oxygen production.

The extent of Forestry Cultivation in the UK

The UK boasts extensive forested lands, encompassing approximately [insert approximate number] hectares dedicated to forestry. These forests serve as valuable assets for major timber industries, supplying raw materials for construction, furniture manufacturing, and paper production. Additionally, forests provide recreational opportunities, wildlife habitats, and ecosystem services vital for the well-being of local communities and the environment.

What are the Nutrient Requirements of a forestry crop?

Forestry requires essential nutrients for healthy growth and development, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients like calcium and magnesium. These nutrients support tree vigor, root development, and resistance to pests and diseases. Regular soil testing and fertilization practices are essential for maintaining optimal nutrient levels and promoting sustainable forest growth.


What are the roles of nutrients in forestry?

  • Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen is vital for tree growth as it is a major component of proteins, enzymes, and chlorophyll. It promotes vigorous vegetative growth and enhances the overall health and vitality of trees.
  • Phosphorus (P): Phosphorus is critical for root development, energy transfer, and photosynthesis. It aids in the formation of DNA, RNA, and ATP, essential molecules for cellular processes and growth.
  • Potassium (K): Potassium regulates water uptake and distribution within trees, enhancing drought tolerance and overall water management. It also plays a role in enzyme activation and carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Calcium (Ca): Calcium contributes to cell wall structure and strength in trees, reducing the risk of diseases and physiological disorders. It also aids in root growth and nutrient uptake.
  • Magnesium (Mg): Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis and carbohydrate production. It also activates enzymes involved in nutrient uptake and utilisation.
  • Sulphur (S): Sulphur is involved in the synthesis of amino acids and proteins, contributing to tree growth and development. It also enhances nitrogen utilisation and promotes root growth.
  • Micronutrients: Micronutrients such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and boron are essential for various biochemical processes in trees, including enzyme activation, hormone synthesis, and disease resistance.


What are the deficiencies & issues that can be faced in forestry:

Identifying nutrient deficiencies is crucial for maintaining healthy forests and maximising timber yield. One of the most common deficiencies in forestry is nitrogen deficiency, which manifests as overall yellowing or chlorosis of leaves, particularly in older foliage. Another prevalent deficiency is potassium deficiency, often indicated by marginal leaf scorching or necrosis. Additionally, magnesium deficiency can lead to interveinal chlorosis in leaves, with green veins contrasting against yellowing tissue. Regular monitoring of tree health and foliage colour, coupled with soil testing to assess nutrient levels, can help identify and address nutrient deficiencies promptly through targeted fertilisation strategies, ensuring vigorous forest growth and sustainable timber production.


NitrogenSymptoms include overall stunted growth, yellowing of leaves (chlorosis), and reduced vigour in trees.
PhosphorousManifests as slowed growth, smaller leaves, and purplish discoloration of foliage. 
PotassiumLeads to yellowing or browning of leaf margins (necrosis), weak stems, and increased susceptibility to drought stress and diseases.
Common in light soils due to easier leaching.  
CalciumCauses dieback of shoot tips, distorted growth, and increased susceptibility to disorders like tip burn and root rot.
MagnesiumSymptoms include interveinal chlorosis in older leaves, while veins remain green, leading to reduced chlorophyll production and impaired photosynthesis.
SulphurResults in overall chlorosis, particularly in younger leaves, and stunted growth in forestry crops. It can also affect the formation of amino acids and proteins, essential for tree growth and development.


How can I spot Nutrient Deficiencies in Forestry?

Spotting nutrient deficiencies in forestry involves observing the symptoms exhibited by trees and vegetation. Here are some common signs of nutrient deficiencies:

  1. Leaf Discoloration: Look for yellowing (chlorosis) or browning of leaves, which may occur uniformly or in specific patterns depending on the nutrient deficiency.
  2. Leaf Symptoms: Pay attention to the pattern of discoloration. For example, interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between leaf veins) often indicates magnesium deficiency, while uniform chlorosis may suggest nitrogen deficiency.
  3. Leaf Size and Shape: Nutrient deficiencies can affect leaf size and shape. Some deficiencies may cause leaves to become smaller than normal, while others may lead to distorted or malformed leaves.
  4. Shoot Growth: Reduced shoot growth or dieback of shoot tips can be indicative of nutrient deficiencies, particularly phosphorus and potassium.
  5. Root Health: Assess the health of tree roots. Nutrient deficiencies can result in reduced root growth or root abnormalities, such as stunted or discoloured roots.
  6. Overall Tree Vigour: Nutrient deficiencies can impact overall tree vigour, leading to reduced growth, canopy thinning, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.


What are the different Species of Trees Commonly Grown in Forestry in the UK?

Common tree species grown in forestry in the UK include Scots Pine, Sitka Spruce, and Oak. These species are selected for their adaptability to UK climate and soil conditions, growth characteristics, timber quality, and market demand.


Use of ICL’s Products such as Polysulphate in Forestry

ICL’s products, like Polysulphate, play a crucial role in optimising forestry cultivation. Polysulphate provides a balanced blend of essential nutrients, including sulphur, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, promoting healthy tree growth, root development, and overall stand productivity. The controlled nutrient release of Polysulphate ensures consistent nutrition throughout the forest stand, supporting sustainable forest management practices and enhancing timber yield and quality.

Guides & Articles


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding growing beans.

  • The optimal time for tree planting varies depending on the species and local climate conditions. In general, spring and fall are preferred planting seasons, as they provide favourable conditions for root establishment and minimise stress on young trees.

  • Successful forest regeneration depends on factors such as site preparation, seedling quality, planting technique, weed control, soil moisture management, and protection from browsing animals. Adequate planning and implementation of these factors are essential for successful forest regeneration.

  • A balanced fertiliser with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) is suitable for forest trees. Alternatively, organic fertilisers like compost or aged manure can be used to provide slow-release nutrients.

  • Apply fertiliser before planting or during early growth stages to ensure nutrients are available when trees need them most. Side-dress additional fertiliser as needed during the growing season, particularly if trees show signs of nutrient deficiency.

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