Current issue: 54(2)
Considering the increasing use of wood biomass for energy and the related intensification of forest management, the impacts of different intensities of biomass harvesting on nutrient leaching risks must be better understood. Different nitrogen forms in the soil solution were monitored for 3 to 6 years after harvesting in hemiboreal forests in Latvia to evaluate the impacts of different biomass harvesting regimes on local nitrogen leaching risks, which potentially increase eutrophication in surface waters. In forestland dominated by Scots pine Pinus sylvestris L. or Norway spruce Picea abies L. (Karst.), the soil solution was sampled in: (i) stem-only harvesting (SOH), (ii) whole‐tree harvesting, with only slash removed (WTH), and (iii) whole‐tree harvesting, with both slash and stumps harvested (WTH + SB), subplots. In agricultural land, sampling was performed in an initially fertilised hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L.× P. tremuloides Michx.) short-rotation coppice (SRC), where above-ground biomass was harvested. In forestland, soil solution N (nitrogen) concentrations were highest in the second and third year after harvesting. Mean annual values in WTH subplots of medium to high fertility sites exceeded the mean values in SOH subplots and control subplots (mature stand where no harvesting was performed) for the entire study period; the opposite trend was observed for the low-fertility site. Biomass harvesting in the hybrid aspen SRC only slightly affected NO3–-N (nitrate nitrogen) and NH4+-N (ammonium nitrogen) concentrations in the soil solution within 3 years after harvesting, but a significant decrease in the TN (total nitrogen) concentration in the soil solution was found in plots with additional N fertilisation performed once initially.
This paper analyses the nutrient loses caused by whole-tree harvesting on the basis of the literature data. It has been considered that traditional stemwood harvesting does not lead to impoverishment of the soil because the nutrient content of the wood is quite low. The nutrient loss occurring in connection with heavy thinnings and whole-tree harvesting has been considered so great that it has to be compensated by fertilizer application. In comparison with harvesting unbarked stem timber, whole-tree harvesting has been found to increase the nutrient loss at the stage of final cutting as follows: N2 to 4 times, P 2 to 5 times, K 1.5 to 3.5 times and Ca 1.5 to 2.5 times. Depending on the conditions prevailing on the site, any one of these nutrients may be the limiting factor for tree growth during the next tree generation
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