Liberation of nitrogen from alder leaf litter
Litters of different plant species vary greatly in regard to their nutrient content and other properties. The aim of the study was to compare different litters from the standpoint of their value as soil fertilizer. In an experiment Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings were grown in pot cultures in which known amounts of different litters had been mixed with the soil. The tested litters were Pinus sylvestris (L.), Larix sibirica (Ledeb.), Betula sp., Populus tremula (L.), Alnus incana (L.) Moench, A. glutinosa (L.) (Gaertn.), Sorbus aucuparia (L.), Tilia cordata (Mill.), Acer platanoides (L.), Corylus avellana (L.), Eupteris aquilina (L.), and Deschampsia flexuosa (L.) Trin.
A striking difference was found between alder (Alnus sp.) leaf litter and all the other litters tested. The difference can be seen from the second growth season on, becaus the young seedling uses mainly the nutrients included in the seed. The leaf litter has mainly unfavourable effect on the growth of the pine seedlings. Only both alder species improve the growth. This is mainly due to the nitrogen content of alder leaves. Tree leaves and other forest litter are often composted in the forest nurseries. It seems that adding nitrogen to the compost is necessary, otherwise compost added to the soil may have a harmful effect on the seedlings. Alder, on the other hand, has nitrogen binding Actinomyces growing in symbiosis in its root nodules, and is able to utilize atmospheric nitrogen.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.
Published in 1958