Relationships between spruce plantation age, solute and soil chemistry in Hafren forest
Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Bangor Research Unit, University of Wales, Bangor, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UP
*Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Merlewood Research Station, Windermere Road, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6JU
Abstract. Rain, throughfall, soil waters from surface peaty O horizon and deeper mineral B horizon, and stream water, were collected every four weeks for one year in a moorland catchment, and in four forested catchments. The four forested catchments represented an age sequence of first rotation Sitka spruce plantations, aged 14, 28, 37 and 53 years. All water samples were analysed for all major solutes, including dissolved organic nitrogen (DON-N); stream water and B horizon soil waters were also subjected to aluminium speciation. In each catchment, soil samples were collected on one occasion and pH was measured.
Concentrations of most solutes were substantially higher in the 37 year old forest stand than in the moorland catchment, with intermediate concentrations in the two younger stands and 53 year old stand. In particular, higher nitrate-N concentrations were found in the soils and streams of the older forests, although these concentrations tended to be highest in the 37 year old stand. Acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) of soil waters was lower in the B horizon of the forest stands than in the moorland, and tended to decline with increasing forest age. Soil water from both O and B horizons was most acid in the 37 year old stand, and the water from the soil O horizon in all four forest stands was more acid than that in moorland sites. The pH of the soil itself (as measured in a deionised water slurry) was lower in the forest stands than in moorland, although trends with forest age were complex.