- Effects of land-use changes on the properties of a Nitisol and hydrological and biogeochemical processes in different forest ecosystems at Munesa, south-eastern Ethiopia (2004)
- The effects of conversion of natural forest into different exotic tree species plantations and crop cultivation were investigated at Munesa, south-eastern Ethiopia with the objectives of (i) determining changes on soil physical and chemical properties, (ii) quantifying water and nutrient fluxes under the different forest ecosystems, and (iii) assessing nutrient dynamics in water flowing through the soil under the different forest ecosystems. Soil samples were taken from the organic layer and at 0-20, 20-40, 40-70, 70-100 cm depths from the mineral soil. Rainfall and throughfall were collected using plastic funnels mounted 1 m above the ground. Soil solutions were collected with zero-tension (organic layer) and tension (mineral soil at the depth of 20, 50 and 100 cm) lysimeters. After 26 years of cultivation, surface (20 cm depth) soil structure was deteriorated and total soil organic carbon (SOC) and N contents both in bulk soil and water stable aggregates were significantly reduced. Below 21 years old Eucalyptus plantation no significant changes on the above mentioned parameters could be identified, but significant reductions in SOC, N and S concentrations associated with the sand and silt separates were evident. There were also significant reductions both in quality and quantity of particulate organic matter (POM) due to cultivation and only in quality of POM due to 21 years Eucalyptus plantation. The organic layer mass under 21 years old Pinus patula, 21 years old Eucalyptus globulus and third rotation Eucalyptus globulus (established 42 yr ago) decreased by 43%, 57% and 15%, respectively, relative to the natural forest. There were also significant reductions in the organic layer C and N stocks (9 to 60% and 25 to 68%, respectively), being highest under Pinus and lowest under third rotation Eucalyptus. In the mineral soil, to 1 m depth, there was a significant (P<0.05) reduction (16 to 20%) in SOC stock after conversion of natural forest into forest plantations. The N stocks under the 21 years old Pinus and third rotation Eucalyptus plantations were significantly reduced amounting 27 and 20% respectively, whereas 21 years old Eucalyptus had nearly an equivalent amount of N as that of the natural forest, probably due to a dense forest floor vegetation, fixing N. The changes in the organic layer and mineral soil S stocks after plantation establishment were not significant. Of the total annual rainfall (1190 mm) recorded during the monitoring period (October 2001 to September 2002), about 47% and 18% were intercepted by the canopies of Cupressus and the natural forest, and Eucalyptus, respectively. Total annual nutrients (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, Na, NH4–N, NO3–N, PO4–P, SO4–S ) deposition by rainfall was 12 kg ha–1yr–1. Throughfall K, Mg, Ca and Cl fluxes were enriched relative to rainfall, whereas Na, NO3–N, NH4–N, PO4–P and SO4–S were depleted. Total annual throughfall nutrient inputs (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, Na, NH4–N, NO3–N, PO4–P, SO4–S) were 14 kg ha–1yr–1 under Cupressus, 21 kg ha–1yr–1 under the natural forest and 24 kg ha–1yr–1 under Eucalyptus. Water passing through the different forest floors differed only in K, Mg and NO3–N concentrations, the latter two being higher under the natural forest and Eucalyptus plantation than Cupressus. Potassium was greater under Eucalyptus than the natural forest and Cupressus. Except for NH4–N in the natural forest, forest floor leachate nutrient concentrations were enriched in all forest types in relation to throughfall. Most nutrient fluxes to the mineral soil decreased in relation to throughfall fluxes, whereas NO3–N fluxes increased by over 50% in all forest types. At all soil depths, the concentrations of most nutrients in the mineral soil solution decreased relative to the concentrations in the forest floor leachate, but Mg, Na and NO3–N at all depths in Cupressus plantation and SO4–S and Na at some soil depths in the natural forest and Eucalyptus plantation had increased. The vertical trends in soil solution nutrient concentrations showed a decreasing trend with depth increments for most of the nutrients, but the concentrations of Cl and Na in all forest types and Ca, Mg and NO3–N in Cupressus increased with increasing soil depth. At 1 m soil depth, the concentrations of Ca, Mg and NO3–N in Cupressus, respectively, were 8, 7 and 23 times higher than in the natural forest and 3, 4 and 81 times higher than in Eucalyptus indicating losses by leaching. Generally, the results of this study emphasize the importance of forest type, species composition and management in affecting carbon and nutrient storage, water and nutrient fluxes and dynamics.