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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - FOREST, RANGE & WILDLAND SOILS

Soil Quality and Tree Growth in Plantations of Forest and Agricultural Origin


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 3, p. 993-1000
    Received: July 13, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): suzanne.brais@uqat.ca
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  1. Inès Nelly Moussavou Boussougoua,
  2. Suzanne Brais *a,
  3. Francine Tremblaya and
  4. Stephanne Gaussiranb
  1. a Chaire AFD, Univ. du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 blv Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC, Canada J9X 5E4
    b Cegep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 425 boulevard du Collège, Rouyn-Noranda, QC, Canada J9X 5E5


Soil organic matter loss and increased soil compaction have been identified as the factors most likely to directly impact tree growth in managed forests. We compared the soil quality of plantations established on former agricultural lands (n = 20) with plantations established following clear cutting of native forests (n = 20). Half of the plantations had been planted with jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) and half with white spruce [Picea glauca (Moench) Voss], 9 to 27 yr before the study. The old field plantations had lower (at 0–10 and 10–20 cm) mineral soil macroporosity and higher field capacity than forest plantations, indicating more severe soil compaction. The old field plantations, however, also had higher soil C content, raising the permanent wilting point and canceling compaction effects on the available water holding capacity. An indicator of organic matter quality, namely the potential net mineralization per unit of soil Kjeldahl N, was lower in the old fields. Species also affected soil quality indicators—with lower values of macroporosity and higher values of field capacity observed under white spruce. Despite significant differences in soil conditions, no significant effect (P < 0.05) of plantation origin on tree growth could be found. Old fields can support productive plantations of both species.

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