The growth enhancing effects of forest fertilizer is considered to level off within 10 years of the application, and be restricted to one forest stand rotation. However, fertilizer induced changes in plant community composition has been shown to occur in the following stand rotation. To clarify whether effects of forest fertilization have residual long-term effects, extending into the next rotation, we compared tree growth, needle N concentrations and the availability of mobile soil N in young (10 years) Pinus sylvestris
L. and Picea abies
(L.) H. Karst. stands. The sites were fertilized with 150 kg·N·ha−1
once or twice during the previous stand rotation, or unfertilized. Two fertilization events increased tree height by 24% compared to the controls. Needle N concentrations of the trees on previously fertilized sites were 15% higher than those of the controls. Soil N mineralization rates and the amounts of mobile soil NH4
-N and NO3
-N were higher on sites that were fertilized twice than on control sites. Our study demonstrates that operational forest fertilization can cause residual long-term effects on stand N dynamics, with subsequent effects on tree growth that may be more long-lasting than previously believed, i.e.
, extending beyond one stand rotation.
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