To investigate whether mechanical mixing during harvesting could account for losses observed from forest floor, we measured surface disturbance on a 22 ha watershed that was whole-tree harvested. Surface soil on each 10 cm interval along 81, randomly placed transects was classified immediately after harvesting as mineral or organic, and as undisturbed, depressed, rutted, mounded, scarified, or scalped (forest floor scraped away). We quantitatively sampled these surface categories to collect soil in which preharvest forest floor might reside after harvest. Mechanically mixed mineral and organic soil horizons were readily identified. Buried forest floor under mixed mineral soil occurred in 57% of mounds with mineral surface soil. Harvesting disturbed 65% of the watershed surface and removed forest floor from 25% of the area. Mechanically mixed soil under ruts with organic or mineral surface soil, and mounds with mineral surface soil contained organic carbon and nitrogen pools significantly greater than undisturbed forest floor. Mechanical mixing into underlying mineral soil could account for the loss of forest floor observed between the preharvest condition and the second growing season after whole-tree harvesting. ?? 1992.
Additional publication details
Redistribution of soil nitrogen, carbon and organic matter by mechanical disturbance during whole-tree harvesting in northern hardwoods