A potential solution to mitigate phosphorus release following clearfelling in peatland forest catchments
de Eyto, Elvira
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O’Driscoll, Connie; Rodgers, Michael; O’Connor, Mark; Asam, Zaki-ul-Zaman; de Eyto, Elvira; Poole, Russell; Xiao, Liwen (2011). A potential solution to mitigate phosphorus release following clearfelling in peatland forest catchments. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 221 (1), 1-11
Since the 1950s, large areas of upland peat have been afforested in northern European countries. Due to the poor phosphorus (P) adsorption capacity and low hydraulic permeability in blanket peat soil and increased labile P sources, harvesting these blanket peat forests can significantly increase P concentrations in the receiving aquatic systems. This paper briefly reviews the current management practices on the control of P releases from forestry in Ireland and the UK, and proposes a possible novel practice-grass seeding clearfelled areas immediately after harvesting, which should reduce P release from blanket peat forest harvesting. The study was conducted in the Burrishoole Catchment in the west of Ireland. A field trial was carried out to identify the successful native grass species that could grow quickly in the blanket peat forest. The two successful grass species-Holcus lanatus and Agrostis capillaris-were sown in three blanket peat forest study plots with areas of 100, 360, and 660 m(2) immediately after harvesting. Areas without grass seeding were used as controls. One year later, the P content in the aboveground vegetation biomass of the three study plots were 2.83, 0.65, and 3.07 kg Pha(-1), respectively, which were significantly higher than the value of 0.02 kg Pha(-1) in the control areas. The water extractable phosphorus in the three study plots were 8.44, 9.83, and 6.04 mg(kg dry soil)(-1), respectively, which were lower than the value of 25.72 mg(kg dry soil)(-1) in the control sites. The results indicate that grass seeding of the peatland immediately after harvesting can quickly immobilize significant amounts of P and warrants additional research as a new Best Management Practice following harvesting in the blanket peatland forest to mitigate P release.