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Valcartier beech control ash experiment

Map of Canada showing the location of the Valcartier wood ash research trial in Quebec.
Location of the Valcartier wood ash research trial in Quebec, Canada.


Southern Quebec
Ecozone: Boreal Shield
Elevation: 250 m


1981 to 2010 monthly climate point estimates generated from the Natural Resources Canada climate modeling project.
Mean annual precipitation: 1,373 mm
Mean minimum temperature in January: −18.9°C
Mean maximum temperature in July: 23.7°C

Site description

The trial is established in a mature (approximately 70 years old) stand of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt.), and American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.). The soils developed from till material, are Dystric Brunisols, and have a sandy loam texture. In September and October 2017, the understory cover (mainly beech saplings) was cleared at each location where the plots were established. All residues were removed.

Ash description

The ash used in the Valcartier trial was produced in a biomass boiler. The ash feedstock was predominantly black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP), balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) and jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) bark. Only bottom ash was used for the experiment, and the ash was not pretreated before application.

Established treed Valcartier wood ash trial with understory cover removed and plots outlined before ash application. Photo: Olivier Jeffrey

Established Valcartier wood ash trial with understory cover removed and plots outlined before ash application.

Treatment description

In May 2018, ash was applied at a rate of 0 Mg per ha (control treatment) and 19 Mg per ha (5 Mg per ha CaCO3 equivalent). Other treatments include light soil scarification, lime addition, and fertilizer addition (NH4NO3). The quantity of ash applied (Mg per ha) was calculated based on the dry weight of the ash, and ash was applied to the soil surface by hand. Treatments were replicated in 12 blocks when the experiment was set up.


Monitoring treatment effects on tree species regeneration and soil chemistry will include:

  • Understory vegetation and tree species regeneration
    • Stocking
    • Species composition
    • Survival
    • Percent cover
  • Soil chemistry
    • Acidity (pH)
    • Total carbon, nitrogen, cations, and trace elements
    • Exchangeable cations
    • Available phosphorus
    • Nitrogen mineralization
  • Soil microorganisms
    • Microbiome (bacteria and fungi)
  • Solar radiation
    • Light measurements

Main contact

Jérôme Laganière, Research Scientist, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre


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