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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Acidification Sources in Red Alder and Douglas Fir Soils-Importance of Nitrification1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 49 No. 5, p. 1274-1279
    Received: Feb 21, 1984
    Accepted: Mar 25, 1985

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  1. H. Van Miegroet and
  2. D. W. Cole2



Precipitation, throughfall, forest floor, and soil leachate samples were monitored continuously in 1981 and 1982 in a N-poor Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] forest and a red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) forest growing adjacently on a glacial soil in western Washington. The purpose of the study was to quantify the relative importance of atmospheric vs. natural sources of H+ input to forest soil acidification, and to determine the role of N transformation processes in the overall H+ balance of soils with different N status. Rainwater samples had an avg pH of 4.7 and annual H+ deposition via precipitation averaged 320 mol H+ ha−1 yr−1. This was modest compared to internal H+ production associated with HCO-3 and NO-3 formation. In the soil under alder cover, which was naturally enriched in N through symbiotic N2-fixation, nitrification released up to 4500 mol H+ ha−1 annually to the solution percolating through the upper part of the soil profile. In the N-poor soil no nitrification could be observed and N transformation processes had a minor influence on the soil H+ balance. The main internal acidification source in this case was H2CO3 dissociation releasing 420 mol H+ ha−1 yr−1. In both instances, soil solutions appeared well buffered against these external and internal acidification sources, and few H+ leached below the 40-cm soil depth.

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