Plant and Soil

, Volume 100, Issue 1–3, pp 297–322 | Cite as

The effect of fertilization on litter decomposition in clearfelled spruce stands

  • B. D. Titus
  • D. C. Malcolm


The influence of NPK-fertilizer on decomposition of litter layers and deposited logging residues (brash) on a clearfelled Sitka spruce stand was followed during two years by zero-tension lysimetry and litterbags. Root development of second rotation planted trees on this peaty gley soil are restricted to the litter layers (LFH) and without fertilizer are dependent on its decomposition for release of nutrients. A comparison of fertilized and control plots showed few site differences and similar hydrological properties.

Fertilizer addition (urea-N, rock-P and KCl) immediately raised leachate concentrations of NH4−N, K and PO4−P, the last remaining high over the period. NO3−N increased dramatically in the second year leachates from the fertilized area. Within two years 45, 60 and 75% of added NPK respectively were recovered in leachates.

Two-year-old litter in litterbags lost weight significantly more slowly after fertilization. The calculated\(\bar k\) values were 0.28 (control plot) and 0.15 (fertilized plot). Mean\(\bar k\) values were derived from individual regressions and allowed microsite variation to be assessed. The difference in\(\bar k\) is attributed to available C limitation although N concentration of needles increased on both plots, P concentration increased slowly on the control plot while K and Mg decreased on both. Ca concentrations doubled with fertilization and remained constant over two years.

The rapid loss of fertilizer and slight response from planted trees indicate delayed application of fertilizers may be desirable.

Key words

Clearfelling Leachate Litterbags Litter decomposition Logging residue NPK-fertilizer Nutrient dynamics Peaty gley Sitka spruce 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. D. Titus
    • 1
  • D. C. Malcolm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesUniversity of Edinburgh, Mayfield RoadEdinburghUK

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