Tree Vitality Testing

We at Arbor Cultural Ltd. have just invested in some new equipment to test how healthy trees are. We have purchased an Arborcheck system for measuring tree vitality.

The system consists of two items, a Chlorophyll meter, and a Chlorophyll Fluorescence meter, which are used in conjunction with one another. Chlorophyll content values taken from leaves during tree health analysis with the Arborcheck Chlorophyll Fluorescence system may be entered into the Arborcheck App where it is analysed as a component part of the Benchmark Values Database.

All too often trees are subjected to heavy pruning, lopping or topping. Often this is not required and ends up causing damage to the trees and shortening their lives. We at Arbor Cultural believe that less is more in terms of tree surgery, with it often being more beneficial for a lighter touch.

All tree work recommendations will comply with the relevant British Standard BS3998 Tree Work – Recommendations (2010), unless otherwise specified in a report, with a clear justification for any deviation from the standard.

Trees also have significant heritage value. This is being increasingly eroded as many large and medium sized trees are being removed as they become unsafe or are simply in the way of proposed development or infrastructure.

Where trees are planted to replace those removed, often they are not given the correct conditions or management they require to enable them to reach maturity. Tree planting should be undertaken in accordance with the new British Standard, BS8545 Young Trees: From Nursery to Independence in the Landscape (2014)Frequently trees of a smaller final size are selected, which will not provide anything like the same amount of benefits.

Chlorophyll Fluorescence and Chlorophyll Content are both non-invasive, non-destructive field-based techniques that are quick to complete, and it can be repeated regularly. In essence, they are superbly positioned to screen for tree deterioration quickly and effectively, due to a stress-related reduction in photosynthetic capacity.

The potential applications are:

Leaves can essentially be likened to photovoltaic panels in that their main purpose is to take energy from the sun and convert it to a different form of energy; in this case, complex carbohydrates that the tree may use for nutritional value. This is the main principle of photosynthesis.

Any biotic or abiotic stress that a tree is suffering from will limit the amount of carbohydrate available for growth and therefore reduces nutrient uptake resulting in leaf chlorosis and necrosis.  Knowledge of foliar chlorophyll concentrations i.e. leaf greenness provides a robust and accurate estimation of tree vitality.

Any form of biotic or abiotic stress, which have an effect on the photosynthetic capacity of the tree will alter the intensity of the chlorophyll fluorescence emission. Consequently, we can use a Chlorophyll Fluorimeter to measure the changes in the extent of fluorescence emission to infer information about the efficiency of light use for photosynthesis.