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Nutrient Export with Logs, and Release from Residues, after Harvest of a Pinus taeda Plantation in Uruguay

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Document pages: 17 pages

Abstract: In Uruguay, Pinus taeda is usually planted a few months after harvest of the former turn, therefore; decomposing residues represents a nutrient source for the new plantation. The aim of this study was to determine the biomass and nutrient extraction off site, following the harvest of a P. taeda plantation. Residue decomposition patterns, and nutrient release were also examined. The site will be referred as S1, corresponding to the clear cut of a 22-year-old P. taeda plantation. Before the clear cut 10 trees were harvested, and logs, branches, twigs, and needles separately weighed. Additionally, forest litter at harvest time was quantified in three different areas. To assess decomposition, mesh bags with residues were allocated in three areas over the forest litter, and samples were taken periodically for 26 months. The remaining biomass, N, P K, Ca, and Mg contents were determined in the different fractions, calculating decompositon rates. Most of the harvested biomass was removed in logs, but the proportion of nutrients exported was considerably lower. Needles showed the highest biomass loss and only 39.1 remained after 26 months, while branches presented high rates in the first two months after cut, but slower thereafter, and at the end of the study more than two thirds of the woody residues remained. Potassium was rapidly released from the residues, while Ca, and Mg, were slowly released, and there was evidence of N and P immobilization in the early stages of decomposition. It was concluded that, although a lower proportion of nutrients were exported, compared to biomass, in the long term, nutrient export with logs could be significant for the sustainability of this production system. While K release from residues did not depend on biomass decay, the slow decomposition, and release of the other nutrients, indicates that this process could have been delayed by nutrient scarcity.

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