Long-Term Soil Responses to Site Preparation Burning in the Southern Appalachians

  • Authors: Knoepp, Jennifer D.; Vose, James M.; Swank, Wayne T.
  • Publication Year: 2004
  • Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
  • Source: Forest Science 50(4):540-550.

Abstract

The mixed oak-pine ecosystems in the southern Appalachians are in decline because of a combination of drought and southern pine-beetle infestation. A commonly applied prescription for restoration of these degraded sites has been to fell all vegetation, allow it to dry, and conduct a site-preparation burn. However, there is little information on the mid- and long-term influences of this prescription on nutrient cycling. The fell-and-burn treatment was applied to three mixed oak-pine stands in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina. Each stand had an untreated control area. Our objective was to determine the effects of this treatment on soil nutrient availability and potential nutrient loss. Exchangeable soil cations, pH, total carbon (C), and total nitrogen (N) were measured before and periodically for 5 years after treatment. Nitrogen transformations and nutrient availability in soil solution and in a stream draining one site were measured before and periodically for 3 years after burning. Exchangeable calcium and magnesium concentrations, soil pH, and N availability increased after treatment. There was no treatment effect on total soil C or N. Nitrogen mineralization rates were greater on burned versus control plots in 50% of the posttreatment measurements. This treatment increased nutrient availability and, although a significant amount of total site N was lost, there were no adverse effects on total soil nutrients or water quality.

  • Citation: Knoepp, Jennifer D.; Vose, James M.; Swank, Wayne T. 2004. Long-Term Soil Responses to Site Preparation Burning in the Southern Appalachians. Forest Science 50(4):540-550.
  • Keywords: Prescribed burn, nitrogen, nutrient availability, forest soil chemistry, mixed oak-pine
  • Posted Date: April 1, 1980
  • Modified Date: August 22, 2006
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.