City Trees

March/April 2013

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Urban Forestry Research Update: Virginia Tech by Michelle Sutton, City Trees Editor Virginia Tech students and administrators pause for a photo with University President Charles Steger (at right holding shovel) and Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Demenech (left of Steger) during an Arbor Day celebration in 2011. Photo courtesy Virginia Tech University Relations Dr. Eric Wiseman and Dr. Susan Day lead Virginia Tech's (VT) urban forestry research program out of the VT Department of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation. Just for starters, Wiseman is a specialist in urban forest analysis and management, while Day runs the VT Urban Horticulture Center. Dr. John McGee of the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program, State Master Gardener Coordinator Dave Close, Dr. J. Roger Harris, and Dr. Laurie Fox of the VT Horticulture Department are close collaborators. The four areas of major interest for Drs. Wiseman and Day and their collaborators are: Applied Arboriculture, Urban Forest Ecophysiology, Urban Soil & Rhizosphere, and Urban Forest Inventory & Analysis. The Urban Forestry Gateway ( is the hub for research information and all things urban forestry at Virginia Tech (a Tree Campus USA since 2008). Here are snapshots of just some of the recently completed and ongoing research of particular interest to urban foresters. 20 Urban Soil Rehabilitation Study and Soil Profile Rebuilding Specs (; Since 2007, Dr. Day has led this ongoing research at the Soil Rehabilitation Experiment Site (SRES) looking at how soils can be rehabilitated after being graded and compacted in the course of development. The work was initiated with graduate student Rachel Layman. More recently, Ph.D. candidate Yujuan Chen has collected extensive data for the project. The research first compared untreated soils to ones that received various levels of remediation. The most successful treatment, dubbed "Soil Profile Rebuilding (SPR)," showed improvement both of soil characteristics and tree growth. It is a subsoiling technique that introduces compost deep into the soil profile, to at least 2 feet (.6 m). According to the SRES site, "Preliminary results demonstrate that Soil Profile Rebuilding can improve tree establishment and growth during the first five years City Trees

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