Interaction of precipitation with tree canopy increases nutrient input
Given that atmospheric deposition is the first source of nutrient input into forest ecosystems, and that the precipitation partition serves as a nutritional source mainly when there is an interaction with the forest canopy, the objective of the present study was to quantify the nutrients input into rainfall, throughfall and stemflow in Eucalyptus urophylla stands with partial exclusion (E) and without exclusion (WE) of throughfall. The experiment was conducted in the northeast of the state of Paraná-Brazil, in the municipality of Telêmaco Borba. The partial precipitation exclusion system (E) is formed by a system of gutters that conduct 30% of throughfall out of the experiment. The nutrient input in rainfall was 55.7 kg ha-1 yr-1, while the sum of throughfall and stemflow was 64.1 kg ha-1 yr-1 in treatment (WE) and 39.8 kg ha-1 yr-1 in treatment (E). Interaction with the canopy of the trees enriched the rainfall with nutrients, mainly the elements potassium and chlorine, due to leaching of the vegetal tissues. The reduction of the water treatment system in partial exclusion of precipitation (E) reduced representative nutrient input. Although stemflow represents on average only 2.6% of the water volume, it is responsible for 6.7% of the amount of nutrients in relation to precipitation. Therefore, stemflow cannot be neglected in the balance of nutrient cycling. With a rotation of 7 years, the application of significant amounts of fertilizers can be avoided, considering the inputs of 449 and 277 kg ha-1year-1.
Keywords: nutrient cycling, stemflow, throughfall.
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