, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 203–221 | Cite as

Land-use change effects on soil C and N transformations in soils of high N status: comparisons under indigenous forest, pasture and pine plantation

  • R.L. Parfitt
  • N.A. Scott
  • D.J. Ross
  • G.J. Salt
  • K.R. Tate


Globally, land-use change is occurring rapidly, and impacts on biogeochemical cycling may be influenced by previous land uses. We examined differences in soil C and N cycling during long-term laboratory incubations for the following land-use sequence: indigenous forest (soil age = 1800 yr); 70-year-old pasture planted after forest clearance; 22-year-old pine (Pinus radiata) planted into pasture. No N fertilizer had been applied but the pasture contained N-fixing legumes. The sites were adjacent and received 3–6 kg ha−1 yr−1“volcanic” N in rain; NO3-N leaching losses to streamwater were 5–21 kg ha−1 yr−1, and followed the order forest < pasture = pine. Soil C concentration in 0–10 cm mineral soil followed the order: pasture > pine = forest, and total N: pasture > pine > forest. Nitrogen mineralization followed the order: pasture > pine > forest for mineral soil, and was weakly related to C mineralization. Based on radiocarbon data, the indigenous forest 0–10 cm soil contained more pre-bomb C than the other soils, partly as a result of microbial processing of recent C in the surface litter layer. Heterotrophic activity appeared to be somewhat N limited in the indigenous forest soil, and gross nitrification was delayed. In contrast, the pasture soil was rich in labile N arising from N fixation by clover, and net nitrification occurred readily. Gross N cycling rates in the pine mineral soil (per unit N) were similar to those under pasture, reflecting the legacy of N inputs by the previous pasture. Change in land use from indigenous forest to pasture and pine resulted in increased gross nitrification, net nitrification and thence leaching of NO3-N.

1415Ammonium Extractable carbon Lignin Microbial biomass New Zealand Nitrate Respiration 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.L. Parfitt
  • N.A. Scott
  • D.J. Ross
  • G.J. Salt
  • K.R. Tate

There are no affiliations available

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