Current issue: 55(2)
The aim of the present study was to increase the knowledge of the anaerobic conditions prevailing in virgin peat soils of different kinds, and on the fluctuation of the aerobic limit. Silver rod method was used to indicate anaerobic conditions and to locate the aerobic limit. The material included 18 peatland sample plots on treeless bogs, in pine bogs and in spruce swamps in Southern Finland. Observations of the discoloration of the silver rods and measurements of ground water level were made from 8 June to 13 August 1968.
The results show that the location of the aerobic limit is dependent of the depth of the ground water table, and usually lies 5–15 cm above the ground water table. Down to 10–20 cm below the aerobic limit, where it reaches maximum, the rate of decomposition of sulfurous organic matter is positively correlated with the distance from the aerobic limit. Deeper it gradually decreases, and in the depth of 25–35 cm no hydrogen sulphide seems to be released.
In the forested peatland types the volume of the growing stock and the increment were dependent on the depth of the aerobic limit only when nutrient content and pH of the peat was more or less constant. Where the aerobic limit was close to the ground surface but the nutrient contents were relatively high, the volume of the growing stock may be comparatively high. Birch (Betula sp.), better than the conifers, is able to stand conditions poor in oxygen. The growing stock was poor in sites where the aerobic limit was near the ground surface, but the nitrogen and phosphorus contents were high, or vice versa. Consequently, aerobic limit is of great importance as an indicator of site quality.
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