Mineralizable nitrogen (min-N) often correlates well with plant-available nitrogen (N) in soils, and might serve as a useful indicator of whether soils are detrimentally affected by timber harvesting practices. We examined how min-N responded to soil compaction and site organic matter removal after 1 and 5 years on three sites in central British Columbia. Mineral soil min-N was found to change after disturbance, increasing on some plots after 5 years by as much as 20 mg kg-1. Some of the lowest min-N concentrations were found after forest floor removal, but inconsistent responses across compaction treatments and sites made it difficult to generalize on the overall effects of soil disturbance. Forest floor min-N increased across all plots in the first years after tree harvest, but returned to pre-harvest levels by year 5, with no effects detected from compaction or wholetree harvest. The net change in mineral soil min-N was significantly correlated to foliar N of white spruce, but not lodgepole pine. Although levels of min-N were able to demonstrate some differences in soil productivity, its usefulness as a management tool would require a better understanding of mechanisms causing changes in min-N after disturbance.
Kranabetter, J.M., Sanborn, P.. 2008. Short-term effects of forest soil compaction and site organic matter removal on mineralizable soil nitrogen in central British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. LTSPS Research Note
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Soil, Conservation, Soils
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