Eastern Townships wood ash trial — Sugar maple stands
Ecozone: Mixedwood Plains
Elevation: 270 to 400 m
1981 to 2010 monthly climate point estimates generated from the Natural Resources Canada climate modeling project.
Mean annual precipitation: 1264 mm
Mean minimum temperature in January: −16.6°C
Mean maximum temperature in July: 23.7°C
Before the experiment, each site supported a 60- to 80-year-old mixed deciduous stand dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) with some American basswood (Tilia americana L.), American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), white ash (Fraxinus americana L.), and/or butternut (Juglans cinerea L.). All the stands had previously been clearcut or selection cut. The soils have developed on tills with gentle to moderate slopes and have a sandy to loamy sand to sandy loam texture. The soils are typically Orthic Humo-Ferric or Ferro-Humic Podzols with a 10- to 15-cm forest floor layer consisting primarily of leaves and twigs.
The ash used for this trial was produced in a biomass boiler. The ash feedstock consisted of 80% hardwood and softwood bark and 20% wooden construction and demolition debris. Only bottom ash was used for the experiment, and the ash was not pretreated before application.
Before plot establishment, each site was selection cut (2012 to 2014). In the summer to early autumn of 2015, one treated plot and one control plot were established at each of the 15 sites. Treatments included 0 Mg ash per ha or 20 Mg ash per ha. The quantity of ash applied (Mg per ha) was calculated based on the fresh wet weight of the ash, and ash was applied to the soil surface using a mechanical spreader. To examine the influence of deer feeding on vegetation in the experiment, exclosure fences were installed in a section of each plot to prevent deer from feeding in these areas.
Monitoring treatment effects on trees and soil chemistry is ongoing. Data being collected include:
- Foliar nutrients
- Soil chemistry
- Acidity (pH)
- Total carbon and nitrogen
- Available phosphorus
- Exchangeable cations and acidity
Nicolas Bélanger, Professor, Department of Science and Technology, Université TÉLUQ
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