Effects of clear-cutting on nutrient losses in aspen forests on three soil types in Michigan

TitleEffects of clear-cutting on nutrient losses in aspen forests on three soil types in Michigan
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1975
AuthorsRichardson CJ, Lund JA
EditorHowell F.G, Gentry J.B, Smith M.H
Book TitleMineral Cycling in Southeastern Forest Ecosystems
Series TitleERDA Symposium Series (CONF-740513)

The effects of clear-cutting on NO3-, NH4+, PO4-3, K+, Ca+2, Na+, Fe+2, and Mg+2 losses were evaluated in three 60-year-old aspen stands in northern lower Michigan. Paired 0.5-ha sites (control and clear-cut) located on good, intermediate, and poor soils were compared for soil-nutrient leaching during the 1973 growing season. Preliminary analyses indicated the soil-nutrient leachate concentrations (NO3-, NH4+, PO4-3, K+, Ca+2, Na+, Fe+2, and Mg+2) were not significantly higher (P<0.05) on clear-cut plots than on paired control plots during the first growing season. Nitrate-nitrogen and ammonium-nitrogen leachate values were significantly less than seasonal precipitation input. Leachate concentrations reached maximum levels following spring thaw and then fluctuated through the growing season. Highest nutrient losses were generally found on the good soils, followed by the intermediate and then the poor soils. Groundwater accretion was estimated to be 12 cm per year higher on clear-cut plots. A preliminary nutrient budget was calculated from determinations of input (concentration x volume of precipitation) and output (leachate concentration x volume of groundwater flux). In the first-year data for carefully controlled clear-cuts, little evidence of increased nutrient losses was found for NO3-N, NH4-N, PO4, Mg+2, Na+, K+, and Fe+2 as a consequence of clear-cutting. Additional losses (leachate in excess of control losses) of Ca+2 and Mg+2 due to clear-cutting exceeded precipitation inputs only on the good soil. A definitive answer on nutrient losses cannot be determined until a complete nutrient and hydrologic budget is calculated over several seasons.