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Evergreen trees and their effect on water dynamics  RSS feed

 
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at 4:38 you can pause and see the diagram.

Pine trees also all these cedar trees hold the snow on their branches during winter, so big part of that evaporates with the wind and cant reach the ground, the same happens with the rain in general, all trees have that effect, in different extend, but with the evergreen species this happens also during winter.
I have many such evergreen species of trees, and some are so good at keeping the rain and the snow away from the ground, maybe thats why some of them grow like very elongated cones, just not to block their own moisture.

So what people here think? Is there some truth in the video? I think he explains it in a different way, but I am just sharing what I have observed with these type of trees.
 
pollinator
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Junipers hold a lot of water.  After a rain you can go out and shake a limb and see how much water sheets off. Its amazing.

They have a neat trick which is worth mentioning .  If you look close enough you will see a stream of water flowing down the branches, to the trunk,  to the ground. Where a normal tree has that dripline where the water drops, it takes it straight to the trunk. This leads me to believe their root structure doesn't spread out wide like a normal tree.
 
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Most all of the conifers have shallow roots, even the giant redwoods and sequoia have this shared root trait.
Most of these root systems are going to reach out as far as the branches reach out from the trunk.
Wind is the normal killer of these trees after fire, but most of the conifers will drop their lower branches which helps protect them from a crown fire event thus allowing them to survive most fire events.

Snow being trapped in the branches and needles(leaves) ends up falling to the soil below from wind events or from melting.
As Wayne noted, they send most water collected in the branches to the trunk where it makes its way to the base of the tree which waters that soil, and conifers will have many hair roots near their bases to collect up this water.

 
Borislav Iliev
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Thanks for the input, its like that indeed.
I am just trying to rationalize what is behind what that guy in the video explains and what is the difference between cedar trees and the grass, he looks like a decent guy and maybe there is some truth, maybe its more about the grass holding the water and not letting it to slide downhill fast, or as he explains the roots of the grass themselves helping with the sinking of that water. I am just careful to believe anything until I understand how things happen on theory, because there is a lot of wrong information out there, and one should be careful what he picks as a truth. Or sometimes the information is true but doesnt describe the whole picture which will turn it in a wrong information if applied in different conditions.
 
pollinator
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I would be vary leery of anyone who calls Pine Trees "also cedar trees" because there is a VAST difference between the two. This stems from the soil they prefer to grow in, their strength, and even their shape and function. I do not have a preference, as cedar has its place for building on my farm, but so does White Pine.

I would also say that the person is quite wrong, or at the very least, specific to that location. As Bryant points out, the boughs do not stop the spread of snow and rain, but merely slow it down. Eventually the rain and snow does reach the forest floor.

The greatest debate that I know of, is actually the effect conifer trees have on the water table. I have heard several people state that because trees (particularly evergreens) are so moisture laden that they actually draw water from the soil, so that in clear cut situation, that water stays in the ground and causes the water table to rise.

That sounds good in theory because trees are 60 feet tall and hold a lot of water, but that has not been my experience at all. On my own farm I have clear cut 90 acres to make more room for fields, and have cleared hundreds of acres more for other people.

I suspect two dynamic forces are at play that nullify the theory of a rising water table. The first is that while the trees held a lot of water, they also eliminated wind and sunlight at ground level. With the trees gone, the evaporative effects of sun and water cause an equilibrium in water retention. The second only applies to land that is graded, but because pockets are eliminated to make the field smooth; water moves across the land unlike it used to when it was a forest.
 
pollinator
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I would refer you to a thread I started as a long time educator in old growth coniferous forests:

https://permies.com/t/61173/love-conifers

Conifers are diverse in their habitat and evolution over hundreds of millions of years on this planet, so I hesitate to say anything categorical but...

Conifers are generally shaped as they are (generally conical) to absorb light at lower winter angles, thus utilizing their evergreen nature. Many do have shapes and branch flexibility to shed extremely heavy snows (yellow cedar, subalpine fir). It would be unlikely however that conifers generally harmed the water table if the place holding the greatest salmon habitat on earth also hosts the largest and most abundant conifers. Salmon require abundadnt cold, clean, rushing aerated water that conifers tend to provide best in climates like the Pacific NW. However, this is a fairly rare climate with mild wet winters and dry summers that favor conifers' height and ability to grow just as fast in January as in June, while deciduous trees can never overgrow them and require prolific moss protection and humidity to grow during dry NW summers. Generally mixed evergreen-deciduous forests are the most robust, but evergreens capture moisture and sunlight when deciduous trees cannot and can hold vastly more biomass and therefore water in their ecosystems (Noss, Redwood Ecology, 1998). When referring to peak capacities for forests to positively shape the water cycle, many of the facts cited by Bill Mollison in the big black book are about redwood and other coniferous forests.
 
Borislav Iliev
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Travis Johnson wrote:

I suspect two dynamic forces are at play that nullify the theory of a rising water table. The first is that while the trees held a lot of water, they also eliminated wind and sunlight at ground level. With the trees gone, the evaporative effects of sun and water cause an equilibrium in water retention. The second only applies to land that is graded, but because pockets are eliminated to make the field smooth; water moves across the land unlike it used to when it was a forest.



I was thinking exactly the same things actually.... he was showing some rocks with many holes in them and was explaining they hold the water as a sponge, I think that is very specific thing for his place, and more like an exception than a rule, so I think his method is not really suitable everywhere. I think trees play actually a better job at protecting the moisture, but I think broad leafs trees play even a better role for what I have observed, they allow other vegetation to grow under them more easily, which further help with water retention. Pines appear superior in very poor conditions with great erosion, but if there is a decent amount of soil deciduous trees work better, both keep more moisture and create more soil. And about cedars I have no idea, people use them here for decoration and we dont have wild forests of cedars which can be observed.

 
Travis Johnson
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I think it really think this stuff is dependent upon region.

One of the real problems we have here is our location. Our Atlantic Salmon population has been wiped out, but the reason is pretty simple; we have the fresh clean water in Maine that they need, it is just that because we are on the receiving end of the jet stream, the powerplants of the Midwest and causing acid rain that causes our water to be very acidic. In one study, Atlantic Salmon were observed being lethargic, so they dumped a pile of seashells into the water and within a week the fish were rather energetic again. The PH in the water has changed enough now so that the Atlantic Salmon cannot survive.

But here too our forest goes through changes. In fact as I drive along a road, I can tell the history of the land just by what it has for growth.

If the forest is mostly softwood, I know in the past sixty years it was most likely a pasture, old field. If the trees are fairly big, say 18 inches or two feet in diameter, I can almost be sure that because of the depression, farming was downsized, and the field naturally reverted back to forest. Since softwood grow faster then hardwoods, and they need light, they are the first to grow.

Now if the forest is a mix of soft and hardwoods I know that the area was most likely a field prior to that time period. This would be around the 1900 mark which is when 90% of our area was in fields, and at the height of farming. What is happening is, the softwoods are dying off, and the hardwoods now having been established, are coming up through, so there is this pretty good mix.

But if a forest is pure hardwood, and they are big trees in size, it is most likely old growth forest that has not been clearcut in the pat, or been a field or pasture.

The only exception to this rule is swampy areas of hemlock and cedar. Both are very slow growing, shade tolerant, and can live for over 300 years! On the hardwood side of things, Popil and Black Cherry are sun loving trees that thrive after an area has been cleared, whether by clearcutting, reverting back from agriculture, or a forest fire.

Here is a picture of forest partway from its conversion from Softwood to Hardwood. Because we have been here so long, I know this was a field in the 1920's. in this picture the forest is 100 years old, so you can see where the softwood trees are dying off, and the hardwood is coming up through. Interestingly enough, I cleared this last year and will put this back into a field again.

DSCN0007.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCN0007.JPG]
Clearing Forest Back into Farmland
 
Ben Zumeta
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It really depends on when you get your rain, as deciduous trees grow better where you have wet summers and cold winters, evergreens where summers are dry and winters wet and mild. The reasons seem obvious.
 
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