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«Effect of Residual Levels of Post-harvest Forest Floor Biomass on Soil Temperature at 20-cm Depth at the Fall River Long-term Site Productivity Study ...»

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Forestry Research Technical Report

Weyerhaeuser Company • Western Timberlands R&D

Effect of Residual Levels of Post-harvest Forest Floor Biomass on

Soil Temperature at 20-cm Depth at the Fall River Long-term Site

Productivity Study

By: Thomas A. Terry, Western Timberlands Research, Centralia, WA 98531

Adrian Ares, Western Timberlands Research, Albany, OR 97322

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE

This study was conducted in 2003 and 2004 to understand the effects of biomass-removal regimes on soil temperature on a highly-productive Coastal Washington site planted with Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco). The study is part of the Fall River project that aims to determine the effect of biomass removal, soil compaction and tillage, and vegetation control on soil properties and Douglas-fir growth (Terry et al. 2001). One of the specific objectives of the study was to assess the impacts of various biomass removal treatments on forest floor conditions, site resources, and selected soil processes (e.g., nitrogen, mineralization rates), as well as seedling growth. Soil temperature was assessed because it affects soil water and nutrient fluxes (Goncalves and Carlyle, 1994, microbial communities (Zoog et al, 1997), tree root and subsequent shoot growth (Kuhns et al., 1985; Lopushinsky and Max, 1990), and physiological performance (e.g., root respiration, phytohormone transport) (Day et al., 1991; Schwartz et al., 1997).

AUTHOR'S SIGNATURE DATE

DISTRIBUTION TO LOCATION

Thomas A. Terry, Adrian Ares 7/3/07

TECHNICAL INFORMATION CENTER TIC

AUTHOR'S NAME (Typed) Thomas A. Terry, Adrian Ares APPROVED BY (Signature) DATE Christine Dean 12/17/07 Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author(s).

Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this investigation was to characterize the soil temperature regime over a two-year period (plantations ages four and five) at the 20-cm soil depth as affected by biomass removal intensity at time of harvest. Surface soil temperature was also assessed in portions of the 50-year-old nonharvested stand that were adjacent to the biomass removal treatments for comparison purposes. The data can be used to gain insights into how selected soil processes and Douglas-fir root growth might be impacted by observed micro-climate changes associated with the harvest and organic removal treatments. These data also will be used to characterize the soil temperature regime of nearby areas where lysimeters were installed to assess soil-solution chemistry, and where a wooden stake decomposition test was installed (Jurgensen et al. 2000).

METHODS

The Fall River study site is located in the Twin Harbors-South operating area of Weyerhaeuser Company in Pacific County, Washington at 46º 43’ N lat. and 123º 25’ W long. The soil belongs to the Boistfort series, which includes deep, well-drained, medium- to moderately-fine textured soils developed from Miocene volcanic rocks with volcanic ash influence in the surface horizons (Steinbrenner and Gehrke, 1973). The Boistfort series is representative of soils found in parts of the Coast Range and Western Cascades of Washington and Oregon. This soil has low bulk density, high organic C content and high water-holding capacity (Ares et al., 2005).

The Fall River study follows a randomized complete block design with two replications of the four biomass removal treatments in each of four blocks (Terry et al., 2001). For this investigation, we

assessed soil temperature in one replication per block for two of the four biomass-removal treatments:

(1) merchantable bole-only removal (BO), and (2) total tree plus all legacy wood removal (TTP). Both biomass removal treatments received annual vegetation control treatments to maintain herbaceous cover at ≤ 5% (Ares et al. in press). Soil temperature was also assessed in four representative locations within portions of the original stand that were not harvested. The stand portions retained were adjacent to the study blocks and had similar characteristics to the portions harvested.

Soil temperature was measured in 2003 (plantation age 4) and 2004 (plantation age 5) in four replications of BO and TTP treatments using i-button temperature sensors (Dallas Semiconductor/Maxim, Dallas, TX). Sensors were tested prior to use in the field to make sure that all sensors gave comparable readings at a given temperature (ambient air and in a freezer). Sensor readings were also compared with a Campbell Scientific temperature sensor and temperature readings were found to be quite comparable ( 0.5 °C difference). Temperature sensors were placed at 20-cm mineral soil depth (excluding forest floor and slash) in the center one third of the western end of the measurement plots in blocks 1-3, and in the center of the eastern one third of the measurement plots in block 4. All sensors were placed in the mineral soil under logging slash and forest floor conditions typical of the respective biomass removal treatments and non-harvested stand avoiding red rot, stumps, and large coarse woody debris. Temperature sensors were installed in four representative areas of the nonharvested stand across from the south end of blocks 2 and 3 and the west edge of block 4. Sensors in the Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author.





Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

–  –  –

For each treatment (BO and TTP) plot and the non-harvested stand, the following monthly soil temperature parameters were calculated or determined for each month of the 24-month study: average temperature1, average daily minimum and maximum 2 temperatures, as well as monthly minimum and maximum3 temperatures. In addition, the number of hours per month in soil temperature classes 0-5 ºC, 5 to 10 ºC, 10 to 15 ºC, 15 to 20 ºC, and 20 to 25 ºC were determined. Soil temperature degree days per month were calculated as the sum of daily degree days (Zalom et al. 1983). Daily degree days

were calculated as:

((Maximum + minimum temperature)/2) – 10 If minimum temperature was lower than 10 ºC (i.e., the minimum threshold for adequate Douglas-fir root growth), the minimum temperature was set equal to the minimum threshold. The minimum threshold was decided based on results of the study by Lopushinsky and Max (1990) indicating that root growth of Douglas-fir increased rapidly above 10 ºC soil temperature.

KEY FINDINGS

Soil temperatures at 20-cm reached 10 °C earlier during the year in the TTP than the BO treatment, and the TTP treatment had more hours of near-optimal soil temperatures. Mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures at the 20-cm depth were also higher during the growing season in the TTP than the BO treatment. Monthly degree days (10 °C base) at 20-cm soil depth were clearly greater during the growing season in the TTP than the BO treatment. Soil temperatures in the non-harvested stand were always cooler than the BO and TTP treatments, except during the winter season when temperatures were quite similar across treatments.

Both soil temperature increases and surface soil moisture decreases were observed in the TTP when compared to the BO at the Fall River site located in Coastal Washington. Over a five-year period seedling growth was not significantly impacted, although a seedling growth increase was observed at age two in a cool, moist year, while a growth reduction was observed at age three in TTP during a dry year, most likely caused by surface soil drying.

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS

Removal of coarse woody debris and logging slash after clearcut harvesting can increase surface soil temperatures and may also decrease surface soil moisture contents during the growing season. Nearground air temperatures and vapor pressure deficit can also be affected by these manipulations. All of these factors must be considered when seedling impacts are assessed following manipulation of logging Average of all temperature readings taken (measured every two hours) during the month Average daily minimum and average daily maximum temperature for the month period The lowest and highest recorded temperature for the month.

Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author.

Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

–  –  –

Although soil temperature was more favorable for seedling root growth when coarse woody debris and logging slash were removed, there was no cumulative seedling growth advantage at age five when compared to the treatment where logging slash was left in place. In fact, the general trend was for seedling performance to be less in the total-tree removal and total-tree plus removal of all legacy woody debris treatments, likely because of the increased moisture evaporation from the soil, which reduced surface soil moisture content.

Future studies assessing the impacts of logging slash and coarse woody debris manipulation on soil temperatures should also assess soil moisture and measure seedling root growth directly. It is possible that changes in soil temperature among biomass-removal treatments may affect tree growth more on sites colder, drier, and less fertile than Fall River.

Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author.

Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

–  –  –

Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author.

Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

–  –  –

Soil temperature was assessed because it affects soil water and nutrient fluxes (Goncalves and Carlyle, 1994), microbial communities (Zogg et al, 1997), organic matter decomposition (Brady and Weil 1999) and tree root and shoot growth (Kuhns et al., 1985; Lopushinsky and Max, 1990), and physiological performance (e.g., root respiration, phytohormone transport) (Day et al., 1991; Schwartz et al., 1997).

Table 1 provides specific examples of soil temperature effects on soil and plant processes.

The amount of biomass residues left after harvest is known to affect soil temperature, but the magnitude and direction of the temperature changes depend on soil properties and climate patterns. Residue retention usually moderates surface soil temperatures (Pérez-Batallón et al., 2001; Powers, 2002) and conserves soil water, although effects can be transitory and restricted to the upper soil horizons (Blumfield and Xu, 2003). Removing logging slash and forest floor during harvesting and site preparation can lead to increased soil temperatures during the growing season, which can be conducive to a more favorable root-growing environment in cool climates (Valentine, 1975). Increased surfacesoil temperatures, however, can increase soil drying reducing soil water content to levels that become limiting for optimum seedling growth (Roberts et al., 2005).

In addition to the soil temperature and moisture effects, the manipulation of logging slash residuals can affect air temperature and vapor pressure deficits at seedling height, which can influence seedling performance (Valentine 1975; Spittlehouse and Childs 1990).

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this investigation was to characterize the soil temperature regime during a two-year period (plantation ages four and five) at the 20-cm soil depth in relation to biomass removal intensity at time of harvest. Soil temperature also was assessed in portions of the same 50-year-old stand that were not harvested and located adjacent to the core study area. The investigation determined how organic matter residuals affected (a) the timing when the average monthly temperature exceeded 10 °C, (b) the proportion of monthly hours in various temperature ranges, and (c) the number of “degree days” per month. The null hypothesis is that the TTP and BO treatments will have similar temperature regimes, while the alternative hypothesis is that the TTP treatment will have warmer soil temperatures during the growing season. The stand is expected to have cooler soil temperatures during the growing season relative to both biomass removal treatments. These data will be used to provide insights into how soil processes and root growth might be impacted by soil microclimate changes associated with harvest and biomass removal. The data also will be used to characterize the soil temperature (20-cm soil depth) in the BO, TTP and stand where lysimeters are installed to assess soil solution chemistry.

Strictly Proprietary (Red): Disclosure strictly limited to persons on a managed list. Contact author.

Proprietary (Yellow): Disclosure limited to persons confidentially bound to Weyerhaeuser on a need to know basis.

Non-Proprietary (Green): Disclosure unlimited.

–  –  –

MATERIALS AND METHODS



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