Plant and Soil

, Volume 305, Issue 1, pp 171–187

The effect of afforestation with Scots pine (Pinus silvestris L.) of sandy post-arable soils on their selected properties. II. Reaction, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus


    • Institute of Soil Science and Environment ManagementAgricultural University
  • Marta Olszewska
    • Institute of Soil Science and Environment ManagementAgricultural University
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11104-008-9538-z

Cite this article as:
Smal, H. & Olszewska, M. Plant Soil (2008) 305: 171. doi:10.1007/s11104-008-9538-z


Despite the extensive literature on the effect on soil properties of afforestation of former arable land, we still lack full understanding of whether the changes proceed in the same direction and at the same rate, and of how long is required to achieve a state of soil equilibrium typical of a natural forest ecosystem. Therefore, as part of a study comparing post-arable sandy soils (Dystric Arenosols) afforested with Scots pine (Pinus silvestris L.) with arable soils and soils of continuous coniferous forests, the range and direction of changes in pH, organic carbon (Corg), total nitrogen (Ntot), ammonium (N-NH4) and nitrates (N-NO3) in soil solution, total (Ptot) and available (Pav) phosphorus were determined. The studies were carried out in south-east Poland (51°30′-51°37′N, 22°20′-22°35′E). Ten paired sites of afforested soils (five with 14- to 17-year-old stands and five with 32- to 36-year-old stands) with adjacent cultivated fields, and five sites of continuous forest with present stands of ca. 130–150 years old were selected. Soil samples were taken from the whole thickness of master horizons and, in the case of the A horizon of the afforested soils, from three layers: 0–5 (A0–5), 5–10 (A5–10) and 10–20 cm (A10–20). The cultivated soils in the Ap horizon showed higher pH (by ca. 1.0 unit), lower Corg and C:N, similar Ntot, lower N-NH4, higher N-NO3, higher Ptot and Pav contents compared with the Ah horizon of continuous forest soils. The results indicated decreased soil pH in the former plough layer of the afforested soils, with the greatest decrease observed in the 0–5 cm layer. In these soils, the Corg content was considerably higher in the A0–5 layer, but lower in the two deeper layers and in the whole A horizon (0–20 cm) compared with the Ap horizon of the arable soils. The results indicate that the Corg content, after an initial phase of decline, again achieved a level characteristic of arable soils. The Ntot content in all layers of the A horizon of the afforested soils was lower than in the Ap horizon of the arable soils, and showed a reduction with stand age, especially in deeper layers. The C:N ratios in the mineral topsoil increased with stand age. N-NH4 content increased and N-NO3 decreased after afforestation. The Ptot and Pav contents in all layers and in the whole A horizon of the afforested soils, on stands of both ages, was lower than in the Ap of the cultivated soils. From the results, it could be concluded that, after more than 30 years of tree growth, the soils of the A horizon were still more similar to arable than to continuous forest soils with respect to Corg, Ptot and Pav. With respect to pH, N-NH4 and N-NO3, especially in the 0–5 cm layer, they were more similar to continuous forest soils than to cultivated soils, but with respect to Ntot and C:N ratio they were somewhere in between.


AfforestationCarbonNitrogenpHPhosphorusPost-arable soils

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008