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Research article2003Peer reviewed

Soil acidification induced by ammonium sulphate addition in a Norway spruce forest in Southwest Sweden

Bergholm J, Berggren D, Alavi G


The contributions of different acidifying processes to the total proton load (TPL) of the soil in control plots (C) and ammonium sulphate treated plots (NS) were studied in a Norway spruce stand in Southwest Sweden during 1988–1998. The annual deposition of inorganic nitrogen and sulphate was on average 18 kg N and 20 kg S ha-1. In addition the NS treated plots received 100 kg N and 114 kg S ha-1 annually. The amounts of nutrients added to the ecosystem by wet and dry deposition and the leaching at 50 cm depth were calculated. The net atmospheric proton load, the proton load by nitrogen transformations in the soil, the sulphate sorption/desorption in the soil and the excess base cation accumulation in biomass were calculated. There was no leaching of inorganic nitrogen from control plots during the study period. The net atmospheric proton deposition, originating from sulphuric and nitric acid deposition, was the main contributor to TPL in control plots. The addition of ammonium sulphate increased the leaching of ammonium, nitrate, sulphate, magnesium and calcium but not of potassium. The TPL in NS plots was about ten times that in control plots. The nitrogen transformation processes were the main contributors to TPL to NS soil, in the beginning by ammonium uptake and later also by nitrification. The pH decreased by 0.4 units in the mineral soil. The between-year variation in TPL during the eleven year period in C plots (200–1500 molc ha-1 yr-1) and in NS plots (1000–13000 molc ha-1 yr-1) was mainly dependent on the sorption or release of sulphate. Both in C and NS, the TPL was buffered mainly by dissolving solid aluminium compounds, most probably some Al(OH)3 phase

Published in

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
2003, Volume: 148, number: 1-4, pages: 87-109

      SLU Authors

      • Alavi, Ghasem

        • Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

      Publication identifier


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