Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type






First Advisor

Dr. John Lhotka


The establishment of intensively managed woody energy crops on reclaimed surface mine lands provides an opportunity to diversify domestic biomass sources, while increasing the productivity and economic value of underutilized land. Our objective is to test the effect of fertilization and irrigation on the growth, survival, biomass accumulation, biomass allocation, leaf area, and nutrient dynamics of American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis L.) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) planted on a reclaimed surface mine. In 2008, replicated plantings of sycamore and black locust were established on the Big Elk mine in eastern Kentucky. Treatments tested include annual granular fertilizer applications of 37 kg N, 30 kg P, and 16 kg K ha-1, irrigation, irrigation + fertilization, and control. Following two growing seasons, American sycamore exhibited significantly (p < 0.05) greater height, diameter, leaf area, and stem biomass in fertilizer treatment compared to all other species and treatment combinations. Treatments had no affect on survival, but American sycamore exhibited significantly higher survival than black locust. Poor locust survival and growth were likely attributed to excessive ungulate browsing. Our findings indicate that fertilizer applications at young plantations on reclaimed mines in Appalachia increases tree height, diameter, and biomass accumulation.