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Nitrogen leaching following clear-cutting and soil scarification at a Scots pine site - A modelling study of a fertilization experiment

Journal article
Authors M. O. R. George
L. J. Hansson
E. Ring
P. E. Jansson
Annemieke I. Gärdenäs
Published in Forest Ecology and Management
Volume 385
Pages 281-294
ISSN 0378-1127
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 281-294
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2016.11...
Keywords Nitrogen leaching, Forest regeneration, Nitrogen cycling, Disc trenching, Ecosystem modelling, carbon-use efficiency, boreal forest, temperate forests, ground, vegetation, N fertilization,
Subject categories Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Boreal forest stands fertilized with nitrogen (N) might be susceptible to elevated N leaching following clear-cutting, with consequences for water quality and soil acidification. Here, we studied a forest fertilization experiment with N, 165 Hagfors, in Sweden during the first six years (2006-2011) following clear cutting. The N fertilization treatments were 0 kg ha(-1) (0 N) and 450 kg ha(-1) of N (450 N), supplied during 1981-1992 to a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand: the stand was harvested in March 2006. Following clear-cutting, disc trenching was performed and furrows (F), ridges (R) and areas in-between two furrows (IB) were created. We calculated the N leaching fluxes and ecosystem N budget during 2006-2011 as affected by previous N fertilization, disc trenching and interactions thereof, at Hagfors by the use of a process-based biogeophysical ecosystem model (CoupModel). The model was calibrated against measurements of soil water and temperature dynamics and previously reported measurements of N in soil solution, soil organic matter and vegetation biomass. Criteria for acceptance of model estimates were based on the range enclosed by the 95% confidence intervals of the mean of the field data used in calibration sampled at low frequency (1-2 occasions) and a combination of the mean error and the coefficient of the determination for variables sampled at a higher frequency (28-1921 occasions). The accepted model estimates of the mean annual leaching rates of N were 3.1 (range 1.4-22.7) and 2.4 (range 0.8-7.0) kg ha(-1) of N year in the treatments 0 N and 450 N, respectively, without disc trenching. Disc trenching increased N leaching during the regeneration phase, more so in the 450 N treatment (mean 6.1, range 1.9-16.7 kg ha(-1) of N year(-1)) than in the 0 N treatment (mean 4.6, range 1.9-12.9 kg ha(-1) of N year(-1)). Overall, differences in the posterior model parameter estimates between N treatments and disc trenched treatments F, R and IB were related to the soil physical component: the differences resulted in enhanced drainage in the disc trenched treatments. We conclude that vegetation biomass N accumulation controlled soil water N leaching, and disc trenching increased N leaching from the previously N fertilized plots at Hagfors by its effects on water drainage flow and vegetation N uptake. This finding warrants more research since N fertilization followed by soil scarification in boreal forests is a practice which may increase in the future.

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