Entries in soils (1)


Does long term use of prescribed fire influence soil properties?

Researchers at the Morton Arboretum in Illinois compared soil properties and vegetation between sites burned for over 20 years to sites that had been left unburned. In addition to finding positive effects of fire on the vegetation of burned sites, some soil nutrients were found at higher concentrations in sites with a history of prescribed fire management. 

Implications for management:

  • The oak-dominated forests in this study managed with history of prescribed fire had greater nutrient levels compared to unburned sites
  • Management of these sites with long term low-severity fires did not result in negative impacts on soil which have been observed following high severity fires (e.g., loss of soil C, decreased invertebrate diversity)
  • The benefits of prescribed fire for productivity of oak woodlands may be the result of increased soil nutrients in addition to increased light availability

For a summary of the study's results and implications for management, you can view or download a PDF version of "Does long term use of prescribed fire influence soil properties?

This research brief for research managers summarizes the following peer-reviewed publication:

Scharenbroch, B.C., B. Nix, K.A. Jacobs, M.L. Bowles. 2012. Two decades of low-severity prescribed fire increases soil nutrient availability in a Midwestern, USA oak (Quercus) forest. Geoderma 80-91.