Effect of biochar amendment on the properties of growing media and growth of containerized Norway spruce, Scots pine, and silver birch seedlings

New paper by Köster et al., (Biochar Seedling project) shows the effect of biochar amendment on the properties of growing media and growth of containerized Norway spruce, Scots pine, and silver birch seedlings.

The main purpose of the study was to develop and test novel substrates in which to grow forest tree seedlings in nurseries. We studied the impact of added wood biochar on the properties of the growing media and on the growth of Scots pine, Norway spruce, and silver birch seedlings. Specifically, we aimed to test and estimate the optimal amount of biochar to be added to the growing media to obtain the maximal growth of tree seedlings. Additionally, subtreatments of fertilization were done to test the interaction of biochar amendment and fertilization (biochar x fertilization).

We found that biochar amendment slightly reduced the soil water retention of the growing media due to the high water-holding capacity of raw peat. Due to its alkaline character, biochar had a significantliming effect and could replace other liming components in the growing media. In addition, biochar amendment had a significant effect on the nutrient concentration of the growing media,as it significantly increased the concentrations of all analysed nutrients (C, N, P, and K). Biochar affected the aboveground growth of spruce and pine seedlings and increased the root dry mass and diameter of birch seedlings. Fertilization improved the quality of seedlings, measured by DQI. We also observed no variation in DQI values for 50% and 100% fertilized seedlings, which suggests that the use of fertilizers could be reduced with biochar amendment. Adding up to 20% biochar for spruce, pine, and birch did not reduce overall seedling performance when fertilization was used. We can conclude that biochar could be used as a peat additive in the nursery production of tree seedlings. The results suggest that the growing media could be amended with 20% biochar for spruce and 10% biochar for pine and birch seedlings.

Wildfire effects on soil bacterial community and its potential functions in a permafrost region of Canada

New review paper by Zhou et al., 2020 indicated that wildfire significantly reshaped bacterial community composition and its potential functions in the surface soil layer, but did not shift those in the deep soil layer. The differences in bacterial community composition and its functional potentials between burned and unburned forests were primarily determined by abiotic variables such as the soil temperature, moisture and available soil nutrients. Overall, the study highlights bacterial fitness over a fire-induced environmental gradient in a continuous permafrost region, improving our understanding of temporal shifts in bacterial community compositions and their abilities to control post-fire C and N cycles.

Areas ready for experimental burning in Evo, 16.06.2020

The aim of the experimental burning is to test the effect of different fire intensities on GHG and BVOC emissions from the soil, on soil organic matter quantity and quality, on microbial biomass and composition, on pyrogenic carbon (char) creation, etc. Also to test different measuring equipment (temperature sensors, low cost CH4 sensors, etc.).

The experiment is planned in collaboration with Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Forest Sciences (Disturbance and biogeochemistry team) in University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland (Department of Environmental Science, Kuopio and Joensuu), LUKE (Jokioinen), Emergency Services Academy Finland (Pelastusopisto).

 

How do forest fires affect soil greenhouse gas emissions in upland boreal forests? A review

New review paper by Ribeiro-Kumara et al., 2020 focuses on four different standpoints to explore the effects of fire on greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in boreal forests: fire severity, time after fire, physical environment, and temperature sensitivity (Q10). High-severity fires have stronger effects on soil CO2 efflux than low-severity fire. Soil CO2 efflux generally increases as a function of time after fire, with the re-establishment of vegetation cover governing the recovery of soil CO2 emissions. Fire effects on soil CO2 emissions in permafrost areas are tightly linked to fire-induced changes in SOM throughout the soil profile. The fire-severity effects on CH4 and N2O fluxes are still uncertain, since very few studies have been conducted after low-severity fires. Upland boreal forests in permafrost and nonpermafrost areas seem to act as CH4 sinks during the fire succession, although a strong trend has not yet been identified. The fire effects on CH4 fluxes may be associated with soil moisture and diffusivity conditions at the time of fire and active layer depth after fire. The direction of the N2O fluxes across a fire succession is still uncertain, while soil temperature is the most studied driver for N2O emissions.

Molecular composition of soil dissolved organic matter in recently-burned and long-unburned boreal forests

New paper by Ide et al., 2020 investigates how forest fires can change the quality of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in soils, and consequently have an influence on biogeochemical cycles in forest ecosystems. To clarify the effects of fire on the chemical composition of DOM in boreal forest soils, the molecular composition of soil DOM was compared between recently-burned and long-unburned boreal forests (6 and 156 years since the last fire, respectively) in Finnish Lapland.

Ultrahigh-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry revealed that there were no significant differences in species, average molecular weight or the number of molecular compounds detected between the recently-burned and long-unburned forests. However, the number of compounds with condensed aromatic structures tended to be larger in the recently-burned forest, whereas the numbers of proteins and carbohydrates not shared between the two forests were significantly smaller. The study suggests that fire not only generated several species of dissolved black carbon, but also caused burned plant residues, which supplied diverse lignin-like molecules in the recently-burned forest soils and led to the number of molecular species being comparable to that in the long-unburned forest soils.

Burning experiment 2020

New attempt! Book the dates!

We are currently planning a prescribed fire (burning experiment) close to Evo, Finland.

This will be the test burning, to prepare for the bigger campaign in summer of 2021. Currently the plan is to establish experimental burning areas in 70-80 year old Scots pine stands (sandy soils), and the burning should take place between 15.05 – 15.06.2020.

We are aiming surface fires with two different intensities – two different treatments with burning temperatures around 300 degrees and 600 degrees (acheaved by biomass treatment).

The aim of the experimental burning is to test the effect of different fire intensities on GHG and BVOC emissions from the soil, on soil organic matter quantity and quality, on microbial biomass and composition, on pyrogenic carbon (char) creation, etc. Also to test different measuring equipment (temperature sensors, low cost CH4 sensors, etc.).

The experiment is planned in collaboration with Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Forest Sciences (Disturbance and biogeochemistry team) in University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland (Department of Environmental Science, Kuopio and Joensuu), LUKE (Jokioinen), Emergency Services Academy Finland (Pelastusopisto).

Wildfire effects on BVOC emissions from boreal forest floor on permafrost soil in Siberia

New paper by Zhang-Turpinen et al. studied the long-term effects of wildfire on forest floor BVOC emission rates along a wildfire chronosequence in a Larix gmelinii forest in central Siberia – how forest wildfires and the subsequent succession of ground vegetation, as well as changes in the availability of SOM along with the deepened and recovered active layer, influence BVOC emission rates.

The results showed that forest floor acted as source of a large number of BVOCs in all forest age classes. Monoterpenes were the most abundant BVOC group in all age classes. The total BVOC emission rates measured from the 23- and >100-year-old areas were ca. 2.6 times higher than the emissions from the 1-year-old area. Lower emissions were related to a decrease in plant coverage and microbial decomposition of SOM after wildfire. The results also showed that forest wildfires play an important indirect role in regulating the amount and composition of BVOC emissions from post-fire originated boreal forest floor. This could have a substantial effect on BVOC emissions if the frequency of forest wildfires increases in the future as a result of climate warming.

Long-term effects of forest fires on soil greenhouse gas emissions and extracellular enzyme activities in a hemiboreal forest

New paper by Ribeiro –Kumara et al. studied how fire-induced changes to soil properties and vegetation affect gas exchange of CO2, CH4 and N2O in the soil–atmosphere interface of hemiboreal Scots pine forests in Estonia.

The results showed a reduction of soil CO2 efflux at the beginning of the fire chronosequence, but no changes to CH4 or N2O fluxes related to time after fire. Soil respiration responded differently to changes in soil temperature and soil moisture across the fire chronosequence. Conversely, CH4 and N2O fluxes only responded to changes in soil temperature. Recovery of soil respiration in the long term was associated with the moderate effect of fire on enzyme activity, the above- and below-ground litter C input, and the re-establishment of overstorey vegetation. Enzyme activity and decomposition inside the litter bags were especially good indicators of the role of the microbiota on the initial recovery of soil respiration prior to the re-establishment of the vegetation

Despite its limitations, the study certainly adds to our understanding of the importance and complexity of both above- and below-ground (vegetation and microbiota) responses to fire-induced changes of soil physicochemical properties for determining the temporal variability of gas exchange.