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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 4, issue 2
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 4, 311–321, 2000
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-4-311-2000
© Author(s) 2000. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Special issue: Process Representation in hydrological Models

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 4, 311–321, 2000
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-4-311-2000
© Author(s) 2000. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

  30 Jun 2000

30 Jun 2000

Cycling of nutrient base cations in a twelve year old Sitka spruce plantation in upland mid-Wales

B. Reynolds1, M. J. Wood2, A. M. Truscott3, S. A. Brittain1, and D. L. Williams1 B. Reynolds et al.
  • 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Bangor, UWB, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UP, UK
  • 2HYSED (Hydrodynamics and Sedimentology Laboratory), Department of Geography, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YB, UK
  • 3Centre for Ecology and Hydroglogy Banchory, Hill of Brathens, Glassel, Banchory, Kincardineshire AB31 4BY, UK
  • e-mail for corresponding author: br@echi.ac.uk

Abstract. The effects of the early growth of plantation forestry on the biogeochemical cycling of potassium, calcium and magnesium have been investigated in a stand of 12 year old Sitka spruce and adjacent moorland growing on acid peaty podzol soils in mid Wales. Element budgets have been calculated for both systems using measurements of soil and vegetation base cation pools and fluxes. In the moorland, the magnesium budget is approximately at steady-state with no net change to the soil store whilst the soil is accumulating potassium. The calcium budget is approximately balanced but contains significant uncertainties due to between plot variability in calcium leaching losses. Afforestation has greatly increased the above-ground living biomass which holds 7 to 15 times more nutrients compared to the living aerial biomass in the moorland. With the exception of magnesium, the base cation stores within the forest soil are being depleted as the increase in atmospheric deposition due to the forest canopy provides only a small offset to the much larger accumulation of base cations within the trees. The current net rate of change in the soil store of calcium is sustainable for only 65 years. However, as the trees mature, their demand for calcium will be reduced and they should be able to ‘tap' deeper sources of calcium in the soil profile as well as in the drift and regolith material.

Keywords: Forestry, base cations, element cycling, calcium, magnesium, potassium

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