Current issue: 56(4)
Under compilation: 57(1)
The water retention characteristics and their variation in tree nurseries and related physical properties were determined for commercially produced growth media made of light slightly humified Sphagnum peat. A total of 100 samples of peat media were collected from filled seedling trays in the greenhouses of four Finnish nurseries in 1990. In addition, the physical properties were determined for two growth media made of compressed peat sheets and chips. The variation in water retention characteristics in nurseries was described using linear models with fixed and random effects. The sources of variation in the mixed linear models were producer, grade, batch (greenhouse) and sample (tray).
The water retention of the peat media at different matric potentials was comparable to that given in the literature. The media shrank an average of 0–16% during desorption. The peat grades were finer than the Nordic quality standards for peat growth media. Particles < 1 mm increased and particles 1–5 mm decreased the water retention characteristics measured. The greatest total variation in water retention was at -1 kPa. The water retention of the peat media differed least at -5 and -10 kPa. The water retention characteristics of media from different producers usually differed significantly. The grades, on the other hand, did not differ from each other in their water retention characteristics nor were there significant interactions between producer and grade. The batch effect was marked but was lower than the effect within batches, where the sample (tray) effect was greater than the effect due to random measurement error. At -10 kPa, the measurement error was, however, clearly greater than the sample effect. The random measurement error was comparable to the batch effect. Aeration of the growth media is dependent on the water content retained between saturation and -1 kPa. The water availability to seedlings at the nursery phase is affected mainly by water retention between -1 and -10 kPa.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
The matric potential and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity of peat-based growth media in containers was measured continuously as a function of drying. The particle size distribution and the water retention characteristics of the media were determined from parallel samples. The growth media used were a light, coarse graded Sphagnum peat, a medium graded Sphagnum peat and a mixture of a perlite and the medium graded Sphagnum peat. Containers of two types were packed with the media and allowed to evaporate from saturation. Matric potential was measured automatically using tensiometers during drying.
In both container types, the matric potential of the media was similar down to 10 kPa at each of the three levels measured during drying. Further drying resulted in a large matric potential gradient between the upper and the middle levels. During drying, there was also clear shrinkage of the media. When the matric potential at the upper level reached ca. -80 kPa, the decrease in height of the media was 5–23 %. The estimated hydraulic conductivity of the media during drying was rather similar. The hydraulic conductivity of the peat-perlite mixture was, however, slightly lower than that of the pure peat media. The hydraulic conductivity decreased linearly on a log-log-scale from ca. 10-5 to less than 10-10 m/s as the matric potential decreased from -3 to -60 kPa. The hydraulic conductivity of the media was comparable to coarse sand at matric potentials below -10 kPa. The decrease in hydraulic conductivity during drying and the possible weakening of soil-root contact due to shrinkage may considerably affect the availability of water to plants.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
A measurement system developed for the parallel and real-time measurement of temperature, matric potential and oxygen diffusion rate (ODR) of a growth medium was assessed. The system consisted of a portable computer, a datalogger, temperature sensors, tensiometers and an ODR-meter with Pt-sensors.
For the measurements, proper sensor contact with the growth medium was needed. For matric potential measurement, appropriate shape and material of the tensiometer tips should be selected for different measurement purposes. The determination of oxygen diffusion rate is based on single, non-continuous measurements. The ODR-measurement required special care with the insertion and handling of the electrodes and selection of applied voltage. The ODR-measurement of a coarse peat medium was applicable only at matric potentials > -5 kPa. This measurement system was shown to be useful and suitable for accurate determination of thermal-, water- and aeration conditions of a growth medium under greenhouse conditions.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
The matrix potential, measured with tensiometers, and its effect on the soil air-water ratio were examined during the production of bare-rooted Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings in nursery fields. Soil water potential was monitored during the growing season of 1983 at three nurseries in Finland, and from fields growing various seedling types at depths of 10 and 20 cm. In 1986, soil core samples were collected in order to assess the water desorption characteristics of the soil. In addition, the effect of polypropylene gauze covering (Agryl P 17) on the soil water potential was examined during the growing season of 1985 at two nurseries in Finland at depths of 5, 10 and 15 cm.
The soil water potential was relatively high in all the fields studied. In fields growing one- and two-year-old seedlings, the median potential was higher than -10 kPa. The potential did not fall below the limit of the measured scale (ca. -85 kPa) of the tensiometers. Soil aeriation may have been periodically insufficient in the rooting zone, as a result of high water content. The favourable water potential is below -5 to – 6 kPa. The gauze covering slightly (1–4 kPa) increased the soil water potential, an effect which could be harmful if the soil air space is low. During the second growing season, the soil water potential was lower in the fields covered by the gauze during the first year than in the fields without the covering.
The PDF includes an abstract in English.
Mechanical site preparation (MSP) is a common practice that precedes the planting of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) in Nordic forests. Mounding has become the most used method in spruce planting in recent years. This study examined the effects of different mounding treatments (spot and ditch mounding, inversion, unprepared control with or without herbicide application) and a mechanical vegetation control (MVC) treatment done 3–4 years after planting on the post-planting growth of spruce container seedlings and their development to saplings during the first 11–13 years on two forest till soils in central Finland, one on flat terrain and other on a southwest slope. On these fine-textured soils the spot and ditch mounding methods favoured spruce saplings development. Inversion and unprepared plots showed weakest growth. On the site with flat terrain, 11 years post planting, spruce saplings were 78–144 cm (38–80%) taller and their breast height diameters were 11–13 mm (60–74%) thicker for ditch or spot mounding than for inversion or herbicide treatment. On the site with sloped terrain the differences were minor between the MSP treatments. MVC improved spruce height growth on sites which did not have intensive MSP, especially on control saplings planted on unprepared soil in herbicide and inversion treatments. On the flat terrain, MVC reduced the density of resprouts to be removed later in pre-commercial thinning. As a conclusion, spot or ditch mounding favoured the growth of spruce over inversion especially on flat terrain with fine-textured soil.
Physical soil properties have a marked influence on the quality of forest sites and on the preconditions for forest growth and management. In this study, water retention characteristics (WRC) and related physical soil properties in addition to vegetation coverage and tree stand data were studied at upland forest sites in Finland. Fixed and mixed models between soil and site characteristics were formed to estimate physical and hydrologic soil characteristics and the site quality with indirect co-varying variables. In the present data, the site quality index (H100) shows a high coefficient of determination in respect to the temperature sum. It is also related to soil fine fraction content, topsoil pH and water retention at field capacity. The thickness of the humus layer is predictable from the pH and cover of xeric and mesic plant species. The soil fine fraction content (clay + silt) is closely related to water retention at field capacity, the soil layer and site type, and without WRC to the temperature sum and site index and type, as well as the slope angle. The soil bulk density is related to organic matter, depth (layer) or alternatively to organic matter, slope and field estimated textural class (fine, medium, coarse). Water retention characteristics were found to be best determinable by the fine fraction content, depth and bulk density. Water content and air-filled porosity at field capacity are closely related to the fine fraction. This study provides novel models for further investigations that aim at improved prediction models for forest growth, hydrology and trafficability.