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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 6, p. 1868-1874
    Received: July 31, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): marja-liisa.juntunen@metla.fi


Leaching of Nitrogen and Phosphorus during Production of Forest Seedlings in Containers

  1. Marja-Liisa Juntunen *a,
  2. Taina Hammarb and
  3. Risto Rikalaa
  1. a The Finnish Forest Research Institute, Suonenjoki Research Station, FIN-77600 Suonenjoki, Finland
    b North Savo Regional Environment Centre, P.O. Box 1049, FIN-70101 Kuopio, Finland


Little information is available concerning the contamination risk caused by forest seedling nurseries to local surface and ground waters compared with agricultural and horticultural production. Leaching of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) through peat growing medium in containers and nutrient uptake of seedlings were monitored in production of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst], and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings. About half of the applied nutrients (total amount applied = 149 to 260 kg N ha−1 and 60 to 108 kg P ha−1) was premixed into the peat medium, as is usual in Finnish nursery practice, and the other half was applied to seedlings in liquid form with mobile booms. Depending on tree species, 11 to 19% of the applied N was recovered in leachates and 15 to 63% in seedlings. The undiscovered proportion varied from 19 to 71%. The amounts of leached N were 19 to 41 kg ha−1 Only 5 to 31% of the applied P was recovered in seedlings; 16 to 64% (11 to 56 kg ha−1) was found in leachates. Total N and P load to the environment may increase substantially if nutrients applied in liquid fertilization outside container trays are included. Consequently, it is important to determine the sources of nutrient load in container seedling production to mitigate the risk of environment contamination.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:1868–1874.