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The interactions between plant growth, vegetation structure and soil processes in semi-natural acidic and calcareous grasslands receiving long-term inputs of simulated pollutant nitrogen deposition

Carroll, Jacqueline A. and Caporn, Simon J.M. and Johnson, David and Morecroft, Michael and Lee, John A. (2003) The interactions between plant growth, vegetation structure and soil processes in semi-natural acidic and calcareous grasslands receiving long-term inputs of simulated pollutant nitrogen deposition. ISSN 0269-7491

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Abstract

Regular applications of ammonium nitrate (35–140 kg N ha−1 year−1) and ammonium sulphate (140 kg N ha−1 year−1) to areas of acidic and calcareous grassland in the Derbyshire Peak District over a period of 6 years, have resulted in significant losses in both overall plant cover, and the abundance of individual species, associated with clear and dose-related increases in shoot nitrogen content. No overall growth response to nitrogen treatment was seen at any stage in the experiment. Phosphorus additions to the calcareous plots did however lead to significant increases in plant cover and total biomass, indicative of phosphorus limitation in this system. Clear and dose-related increases in soil nitrogen mineralization rates were also obtained, consistent with marked effects of the nitrogen additions on soil processes. High nitrification rates were seen on the calcareous plots, and this process was associated with significant acidification of the 140 kg N ha−1 year−1 treatments.

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