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Too much of a good thing?

Experiments to test the idea that fertilizing nitrogen compounds in atmospheric pollutants may be indirectly harming trees (SN: 4/13/85, p. 228) have started at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca, N.Y. "The occurrence of tree decline at locations where deposition of pollutants from the atmosphere is high provides circumstantial evidence for chronic stress by pollutants as the cause," says plant physiologist Jay S. Jacobson, who heads the study. "But there is no proof of this or any agreement on how pollutants reduce tree growth and increase mortality."

For the next four years, the researchers, working first in laboratory greenhouses, will expose red spruce and balsam fir seedlings growing in their native soild to a simulated acid mist that contains nitrates. By also simulating the onset of autumn and spring frosts and conditions during winter freezes, they hope to see the effects, if any, of artificially prolonging the growing season on the ability of these seedlings to withstand such stresses. Later, field experiments will be conducted at New York's Whiteface Mountain and in Vermont.
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Title Annotation:fertilizing nitrogen compounds indirectly harming trees
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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