Forest harvesting removes and redistributes nutrients through felling and forwarding. Substantial quantities of nutrients can accumulate in brash mats on permanent skid trails, but their availability and uptake after multiple thinnings on soils susceptible to leaching are unknown. In this study, we modeled the deposition of base cations and phosphorus on a permanent skid trail after five thinnings of a Picea abies
(L.) Karst. stand, and measured the resulting nutrient stocks in both the forest floor and mineral soil. An estimated 35%, 44%, 41%, and 61% of harvested Ca, K, Mg, and P, respectively, were redistributed to the skid trail. Of those deposited stocks, 32–65% of nutrients remained in decomposed brash material on the skid trail. Mineral soil stocks for Ca, K, and P were significantly higher in the skid trail than in the stand, which included minor increases in bioavailable pools. Skid trail root densities were not lower than the stand while bulk densities were only partially higher. Both would not limit nutrient uptake. There were no significant relations between needle nutrient concentrations and distance to the skid trail. Altogether, these results indicate that nutrient uptake from the skid trail was minimal despite their accumulation, chemical availability, and physical accessibility. This suggests that other factors such as liming and frequent thinning disturbances can repress uptake of available nutrients on skid trails.
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