Tracing N, K, Mg and Ca released from decomposing biomass to new tree growth. Part II: A model system simulating root decomposition on clearfell sites. Biomass and Bioenergy

A. Weatherall, M. F. Proe, J. Craig, Andrew David Cameron, H. M. Mckay, A. J. Midwood

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It is necessary to assess the effects of removing nutrient-rich harvest residues (brash) from clearfell sites because there is a growing market for this brash as bioenergy. The aim of this study was to use stable isotope techniques in a model system to trace nutrients released by decomposing brash. Labelled biomass was obtained by growing Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) seedlings with a generous or poor nutrient supply containing elevated N-15, K-41, Mg-26, and Ca-44. This biomass was used in two subsequent studies. In this study (Part I of II), the above-ground biomass was harvested and placed on soil in a pot containing a newly planted seedling. Soils from two forests, Ae and Teindland, of contrasting nutritional status were used. A full destructive harvest was undertaken after one growing season. Enriched N-15, K-41, Mg-26, and Ca-44 were recovered in the new seedlings. The percentage contribution from labelled biomass to new tree growth was small, but discernible. The N contribution from labelled biomass to new trees was greater in Ae soil, but the base cation contribution was greater in Teindland soil. Results are discussed with reference to the initial nutrient concentrations of each soil. The elevated (15) N, K-41, Mg-16 and Ca-44 in new seedlings indicate that nutrients in brash can make a direct contribution to new tree growth. The success of this model system will provide guidance for the application of similar techniques in field experiments. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1059
Number of pages6
JournalBiomass & Bioenergy
Issue number12
Early online date26 Sep 2006
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • whole-tree harvesting
  • Sitka spruce
  • stable isotopes
  • N-15
  • K-41
  • Mg-26
  • Ca-44
  • soil sustainability
  • Sitka Spruce
  • seasonal growth
  • nitrogen
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • forestry
  • dynamics
  • calcium

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