Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Soil Organic Carbon as the Basis for Assessment of Site Condition in Stands of Populus tremuloides

Presenter Information

Brian RozickFollow

Class

Article

Department

Wildland Resources

Faculty Mentor

Helga Van Miegroet

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

For forest managers, it is important to be able to track site quality changes to determine whether current management practices or vegetation shifts contribute to declines in productivity, or whether past changes can be mitigated through current practices. The list of potential soil analyses to assess site quality is often extensive, test for very specific soil chemical properties, and are frequently hard to interpret. Soil organic carbon (SOC) can potentially be used as an indicator of site productivity as it is central to a variety of vital soil functions that contribute to a healthy ecosystem. We tested the concept that SOC levels reflect nutrient availability levels on soils from a multitude of sites on Cedar Mountain that represent different overstory vegetation (aspen, conifer, or mixed), sampling depth, and past management. Soils were analyzed for SOC content, using a high temperature combustion oven, and for various nutrient ions using Plant Root Simulators (PRS probes) on a total of 95 samples. PRS probes were buried in air-dried soils in a controlled environment for a week, allowing the exchange resin to absorb soil macronutrients and other micronutrients which are essential for plant development. Preliminary analysis indicates that some nutrients (such as nitrogen) are positively correlated with increasing SOC content. We are currently investigating whether overstory vegetation (aspen, conifer, or mixed), depth, or treatment influences the nutrient-SOC relationship. We hope to ascertain whether or not SOC can be integrated as a practical tool into aspen stand management.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Soil Organic Carbon as the Basis for Assessment of Site Condition in Stands of Populus tremuloides

For forest managers, it is important to be able to track site quality changes to determine whether current management practices or vegetation shifts contribute to declines in productivity, or whether past changes can be mitigated through current practices. The list of potential soil analyses to assess site quality is often extensive, test for very specific soil chemical properties, and are frequently hard to interpret. Soil organic carbon (SOC) can potentially be used as an indicator of site productivity as it is central to a variety of vital soil functions that contribute to a healthy ecosystem. We tested the concept that SOC levels reflect nutrient availability levels on soils from a multitude of sites on Cedar Mountain that represent different overstory vegetation (aspen, conifer, or mixed), sampling depth, and past management. Soils were analyzed for SOC content, using a high temperature combustion oven, and for various nutrient ions using Plant Root Simulators (PRS probes) on a total of 95 samples. PRS probes were buried in air-dried soils in a controlled environment for a week, allowing the exchange resin to absorb soil macronutrients and other micronutrients which are essential for plant development. Preliminary analysis indicates that some nutrients (such as nitrogen) are positively correlated with increasing SOC content. We are currently investigating whether overstory vegetation (aspen, conifer, or mixed), depth, or treatment influences the nutrient-SOC relationship. We hope to ascertain whether or not SOC can be integrated as a practical tool into aspen stand management.