, Volume 128, Issue 1, pp 59-66

A decennial control of N-cycle in the Belgian Ardenne forest ecosystems

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As a rule, N-supply of mature Ardenne forest ecosystems is satisfactory. Mineralization rates of soil organic matter are generally high and nitrogen is not a frequent nor an important growth limiting factor. Light N-deficiency is likely to depend on unsatisfactory root absorbing power in very acid soils with dysmoder humus. For other major elements, especially for Mg, Ca and P, near optimal nutrition is rarely observed.

During the late sixties, fertilizer experiments have shown that nutrition equilibrium of stands growing on acid soils, poor in exchangeable Mg, is very sensitive to artificial NH4-addition. Mg-deficiency symptoms have been induced. The present continuing atmospheric NH4 input is believed to produce similar but lasting nutritional stress which might be accentuated by additional acidity generated during nitrification of excess NH4. Evolving Mg deficiency leads to trees' death and developing forest decline is likely to enhance N-output under NO3-form.

Awaiting adequate air purification, fertilizing should restore nutrition equilibrium in order to save damaged stands, to slow down soil acidification and to incorporate excess atmospheric N-input into improved biomass production.