iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Changes in the properties of grassland soils as a result of afforestation

Milosz Podwika (1), Katarzyna Solek-Podwika (2)   , Krystyna Ciarkowska (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 5, Pages 600-608 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2556-011
Published: Sep 25, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

The effects of afforestation on physical, physico-chemical, and biological properties of grassland soils were investigated in three sites (215-230 m a.s.l.) located within the urban area of Krakow (southern Poland) after 45-60 years since the introduction of forest tree species. We compared the contents of nutrients and the composition of humus between forest and adjacent grassland soils, as well as the quality of the forest soils in relation to the introduced tree species (alder, pine, oak, birch, maple, elm). We hypothesized that afforestation of grassland soils results in the increase of acidity and nutrient contents. Studied soils belong to Dystric Gleysols (forest) and Eutric Gleysols (grassland). Overall, 168 soil samples were taken from two layers (0-10 cm and 10-30 cm) both from forest and grassland soils. The results showed an increase of organic carbon (up to 150%), total nitrogen (up to 70%) and total acidity (up to 18 times), as well as a decrease of pH (up to 40%) and activity of dehydrogenase (up to 60%) in forest soils in relation to the respective grassland soils. The most intensive changes were observed in the topsoil layers (0-10 cm). We also calculated the Soil Quality index (SQI) based on PCA in which only soil parameters with high load factors were taken into consideration. SQI ranged from 0.39 to 0.41 in grassland soils and from 0.33 to 0.37 in forest soils. Among forest soils, the highest value of SQI was obtained for stands dominated by black alder, indicating that such species is the most suitable for afforestation purposes under the study conditions. The results may be helpful in the realization of afforestation plans of humid grassland soils.


Land Use Change, Physico-chemical Soil Properties, Soil Quality Index

Authors’ address

Milosz Podwika
Local Park and Zoological Garden - Fundation ul. Kasy Oszczednosci Miasta Krakowa 14, 30-232 Kraków (Poland)
Katarzyna Solek-Podwika
Soil Science and Soil Protection Department, Institute of Soil Science and Agrophysics, University of Agriculture in Krakow, Aleja Mickiewicza 21, 31-120 Krakow (Poland)

Corresponding author

Katarzyna Solek-Podwika


Podwika M, Solek-Podwika K, Ciarkowska K (2018). Changes in the properties of grassland soils as a result of afforestation. iForest 11: 600-608. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2556-011

Academic Editor

Gianfranco Minotta

Paper history

Received: Jul 18, 2017
Accepted: Jun 28, 2018

First online: Sep 25, 2018
Publication Date: Oct 31, 2018
Publication Time: 2.97 months

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