The decomposing roots of harvested trees are a potential source of nutrients for new trees on both conventional and whole-tree harvested clearfell sites. Roots contain significant reservoirs of nutrients, but little is known about the magnitude and rate of their release. The aim of this study was to use stable isotope techniques in a model system to trace nutrients released by decomposing roots. 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-16 and Ca-44. Labelled trees were re-potted in sand and in two contrasting soils types to remove them from the enriched isotope supply. After re-potting, the labelled above-ground biomass was harvested, removed and used in a separate study described previously (Part I of II). In the study described here (Part II of II), new Sitka spruce seedlings were planted alongside the labelled root systems. 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 in both sand and soils. The elevated amounts of N-15, K-41, Mg-26 and Ca-44 recovered in new seedlings indicate that nutrients released from decomposing roots can make a direct contribution to the growth of new trees on restock sites. 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.
Bibliographical noteProceedings of the 4th annual workshop of IEA Bioenergy Task 31 'Sustainable Production Systems for Bioenergy: Forest Energy in Practice,' September 2004, Garpenberg, Sweden and Gran, Norway
- whole-tree harvesting
- Sitka spruce
- stable isotopes
- soil sustainability