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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Effects of long-term N fertilization on nitrate leaching and vegetation responses in a spruce stand after severe wind damage

Olsson, Bengt A.; Bergholm, Johan; Alavi, Ghasem; Persson, Tryggve


Wind damage in a forest stand can result in varying soil effects depending on the pre-history of the site, but areas with storm-felled trees can generally be expected to show more nitrate leaching than undamaged stands. Previous fertilization in such areas, especially with nitrogen (N) fertilizer, may further increase nitrate leaching. This study examined the effect of partial felling of a 42-year-old Norway spruce stand in the Skogaby experimental forest in Sweden during Storm Gudrun in 2005. Nitrate leaching was measured one year before and six years after the storm, in three experimental treatments: fertilization-irrigation with complete nutrient admixture (IF), fertilization with N-free nutrient admixture (V), and an untreated control (0). The 0 and IF treatments had some undamaged replicate plots, but V plots had no trees left after the storm. Compared with undamaged plots and the pre-disturbance level, nitrate leaching was significantly higher in all storm-felled plots, and in the soil solution nitrate dominated strongly over ammonium. Leaching peaked during the second and third post-storm years (2006-2007) and decreased to near pre-storm levels during the fifth and sixth years (2009-2010). Total nitrate leaching 2005-2010 was estimated to be 414, 233, and 218 kg N ha(-1) in the damaged IF, 0, and V plots, respectively. Total nitrate leaching in undisturbed plots in the IF and 0 treatments was 37 and 0.3 kg N ha(-1), respectively. Ground vegetation coverage, biomass, and biomass N increased with time and were negatively correlated with nitrate discharge. However, plant uptake of N only partly explained the significant decline in nitrate leaching between 2006 and 2010. This decrease could also be explained by N immobilization in fungi decomposing woody roots with low N concentrations.


Forest fertilization; Deschampsia flexuosa; Nitrate; N retention; Storm felling; Vitality fertilization

Published in

Forest Ecology and Management
2022, Volume: 520, article number: 120422
Publisher: ELSEVIER

      SLU Authors

      • Associated SLU-program

        SLU Plant Protection Network
        SLU Forest Damage Center

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Forest Science

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