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Forest liming and root system of beech (Fagus sylvatica) A case study in the Sauerland region

Asche, N.
Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 1999 v.118 no.1-6 pp. 294-301
Fagus sylvatica, acidification, case studies, forest ecosystems, forest soils, forests, liming, root systems, rooting, soil acidification, soil amendments, soil morphology, soil pH, trees, Germany
High acid loads have led to the acidification of large parts of the forest soil. To compensate for the hazards of soil acidification large forest areas in North-Rhine-Westphalia have been limed since the early eighties. It has been feared that the root system of trees might degenerate into shallow rooting as a consequence of forest liming. This would have considerable, adverse effects on the stability of forest ecosystems. Up to date only a limited number of studies exist on the development of shallow rooting systems as a result of forest liming. For a better understanding of this problem, two root ditches each were excavated in a beech stand (130 to 150 years old) on a limed plot (1983 and 1990, 6 t/ha each) and an unlimed control plot. Root distribution, soil morphology and pH of soil suspension were recorded. The pH value of the soil suspension was significantly higher on the limed plot that on the control plot, even at a depth of 90 cms. Root distribution showed no significant differences. Merely a slight increase in finest roots (diameter 0–1 mm) was recorded on the limed plot at a depth of 70 to 90 cms. No correlation between soil pH and beech root distribution could be found. The study shows that, after 15 years’ liming, the old beech trees on limed plots did not develop a shallower root system than the trees on the control plot.