Add lime to the soil after tree planting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One of two replicated, randomized, controlled studies in the USA found that adding lime before restoration planting decreased the survival of pine seedlings. The other study found no effect of adding lime on planted oak seedling growth.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 1991-1995 in a degraded temperate coniferous forest in Idaho, USA (Walsh & Redente 2011) found that lime addition before restoration planting decreased the survival of western white pine Pinus monticola planted seedlings. Survival rate was lower with lime (lime: 63-66%) than without lime (72-75%). The two treatments, a control and lime addition (at 11 x 103kg /ha) were applied in 1991 to eight plots (3 x 10 m) at each of two hilltop sites. All sites were fertilized with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium  at 112, 56 and 90 kg/ha respectively and were planted with western white pine  trees, along with shrubs and grasses, before treatments in 1991. Data were collected in 1995.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2004-2009 in temperate broadleaf forest in Pennsylvania, USA (Long, Brose & Horsley 2012) found no effect of lime addition on the growth of planted seedlings of northern red oak Quercus rubra. Seedling height (16-33 cm) and root-collar diameter (6.5-9.5 mm) were similar between treatments. Data were collected in 2009 in two plots (12.5 × 8.5 m) of each treatment: 0, 4.5, 9.0 and 13.5 x 103kg /ha lime application rates (applied in May 2004) at each of five sites. All plots were partially thinned (shelterwood harvest) within the past 12 years and were planted with northern red oak seedlings in April 2004.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Agra, H., Schowanek, S., Carmel, Y., Smith, R.K. & Ne’eman, G. (2020) Forest Conservation. Pages 323-366 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Forest Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Forest Conservation
Forest Conservation

Forest Conservation - Published 2016

Forest synopsis

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