Samson Øpstad

Research Scientist

(+47) 406 21 871
samson.opstad@nibio.no

Place
Fureneset

Visiting address
Fure, 6967 Hellevik i fjaler

Abstract

Perennial versus short term (<3 years) grass vegetation cover is likely to have considerable differences in root density and thus carbon (C) inputs to soil. Carbon inputs are important to maintain soil organic carbon (SOC) and may even increase it. In Norway and Scandinavia, the SOC content in soil is often higher than in other parts of Europe, due to the cold climate and high precipitation (i.e. slower turnover rates for soil organic matter) and a dominance of animal production systems with a large amount of grassland. Here we aimed to evaluate differences in SOC content, down to 60 cm depth, of a long-term grassland (without ploughing for decades) and a short-term grassland (frequently renewed by ploughing) under contrasting climate, soil and management conditions. Quantification of SOC was carried out on three long-term experimental sites on an extended latitude gradient in West and North Norway. The samples were taken from 4 depth increments (0-5, 5-20, 20-40 and 40-60 cm) in treatments that have not been ploughed for at least 43 years, and in treatments that were ploughed every third year until 2011. Preliminary results suggest that there is no significant difference in SOC storage down to 60 cm between long-term and short-term grasslands.

Abstract

The abundance of Juncus effusus (soft rush) and Juncus conglomeratus (compact rush) has increased in coastal grasslands in Norway over recent decades, and their spread has coincided with increased precipitation in the region. Especially in water‐saturated, peaty soils, it appears from field observations that productive grasses cannot compete effectively with such rapidly growing rush plants. In autumn–winters of 2012–2013 and 2013–2014, a four‐factor, randomised block greenhouse experiment was performed to investigate the effect of different soil moisture regimes and organic matter contents on competition between these rush species and smooth meadow‐grass (Poa pratensis). The rush species were grown in monoculture and in competition with the meadow‐grass, using the equivalent of full and half the recommended seed rate for the latter. After about three months, above‐ and below‐ground dry matter was measured. J. effusus had more vigorous growth, producing on average 23–40% greater biomass in both fractions than J. conglomeratus. The competitive ability of both rush species declined with decreasing soil moisture; at the lowest levels of soil moisture, growth reductions were up to 93% in J. conglomeratus and 74% in J. effusus. Increasing water level in peat–sand mixture decreased competivitiveness of meadow‐grass, while pure peat, when moist, completely impeded its below‐ground development. These results show that control of rush plants through management may only be achieved if basic soil limitations have been resolved.