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A global meta-analysis of soil exchangeable cations, pH, carbon, and nitrogen with afforestation

Berthrong, ST, EG Jobbágy, RB Jackson
Ecological Applications
Journal Volume/Pages: 
19: 2228-2241

Afforestation, the conversion of non-forested lands to forest plantations, can sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, but the rapid growth and harvesting of biomass may deplete nutrients and degrade soils if managed improperly. The goal of this study is to evaluate how afforestation affects mineral soil quality, including pH, sodium, exchangeable cations, organic carbon, and nitrogen, and to examine the magnitude of these changes regionally where afforestation rates are high. We also examine potential mechanisms to reduce the impacts of afforestation on soils and to maintain long-term productivity. Across diverse plantation types (153 sites) to a depth of 30cm of mineral soil, we observed significant decreases in nutrient cations (Ca, K, Mg), increases in sodium (Na), or both with afforestation. Across the dataset, afforestation reduced soil concentrations of the macronutrient Ca by 29% on average (p

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