Recovery of forests limited by nitrogen (N) deficiency

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10 July 2013
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A recent paper in Global Change Biology by Jain et al. (2013) which was covered in Nature (Vol 498, p 47) reported that globally the regrowth and carbon dioxide uptake of vegetation is limited by nitrogen (N) supply which could be an impediment to the recovery of forests re-establishing on abandoned agricultural land particularly in Eurasia and North America, and world-wide where wood has been harvested.

This is an example on a global scale of nutrient supply limiting plant growth in line with the principles of Liebig’s ‘law of minimum’ and I believe it stresses the importance of adequate and balanced fertilizer applications in land rehabilitation.

There are other serious implications from the report in that the ability of recovering vegetation, and consequently that of the soils in which they are growing, to take up carbon dioxide is also reduced with the negative outcome of higher atmospheric levels of this important contributor to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.


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