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Question concerning naturally forming forest acids  RSS feed

 
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Good day,

I have a question concerning naturally forming forest acids.  I am hoping that someone might have a list based on percent of which acids are present in eastern Ontario, Canada forest soils.

I would settle for a the acid percentages found in Ontario pine trees, and/or elm trees, as this would help since the areas I'm looking into have many of these.

It seems to be difficult to find this info online, but from what I'm gathering thus far, the main acids are:  acetic, formic, malic, oxalic, but in what ratio seems very elusive;)

Thanks,
Matthew
 
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I am not sure what the answers are, but it would be cool to find out.

I also think that pine trees and conifers in general are more of a dominant species in the high pH (non-acidic) soils of the western part of North America and less so in the acidic soils of the eastern seaboard.

I also don't think that dandelions cause soil compaction, or that if I plant alot banana trees in Canada it will over time turn into a tropical environment.
Instead they are just indicator species. The usual correlation does not equal causation.

The going theory is that pine leaf have vitamin C so ..... xyz... but seaberries have 12 times the citrus acid of oranges and and 2X pine leaves, but they grow in sand dunes, and these are not acidic sand dune soil.

So my question is what makes pines trees/cranberries/etc survive the acidic -dissolved Aluminium rich soil that stunt/kill most other plants but not pine tress.
What do they do to get rid of the excess aluminium (bad minerals) that they take in.
What do they do to get extra/enough of the good minerals that are barely dissolved/bio-available in acidic soils.
I have a gut-feeling it has something to do with mycelium.

I have a feeling the eastern seaboard in general is more acidic because the soil is:
1) older and so it has had more 'good easily dissolved' minerals leached out.
2) wetter and so more of minerals have been leached out
3) it is also possible that with more humans we have done stuff to create rain on the easgern seaboard that is less than pH neutral aka acidic.
4) ammonium fertilizers

An alkaline soil might need some weak organic acid and water to help dissolve the rich mineral in the 'virgin' soil.
But an acid soil almost have the exact opposite problem. It might need to release some alkaline organic compound to raise the pH to make the 'good' mineral already present more bio-available.

Why do I say this, it's because the usual solution is to lime the soil with alkalizing Calcium and the soil will not have dozens of other minerals now dissolved and bio-available even though only 1 mineral was added
 
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Great question Matthew let me take a stab at some answers.

The 0 horizon in all forests is a detritus layer comprised of all the tree litter, in conifer forests this is mostly needles (leaves) and pine, cedar, juniper needles all leach acids from their surface into the soil, thus acidifying the soil, this builds up over time.

This detritus layer also causes a lack of minerals to be available to the plants since most of the fungi present are in this 0 horizon layer and the acidity tends to kill off most of the bacteria needed for mineral breakdown in the underlying actual soil layer which is normally quite thin.
generally the acids found (in highest to lowest concentration order) are Oxalic, formic, malic and acetic I know of no study that actually quantified the concentrations for any one specific area, but that doesn't mean the figures aren't out there, just that I have never looked hard for them.
A good place to start would be the nearest university's biology department.

In conifer forest it is not minerals leaching out of the soil that creates the lack of minerals, it is the depth of the detritus layer and the composition of this layer.
This layer is where the acids come from that penetrate the actual soil and make this soil acidic, these acids mostly come from needle exteriors, bark exteriors on fallen branches and twigs, rain water that can be acidic from picking up industrial wastes that are airborne are also part of the mix.

Plants rarely pick up in needed or wanted minerals when the microbiome is fully complete, this isn't the case in conifer forests where much of the bacteria is absent, in this type of situation the roots will pick up aluminum salts and then break these down in situ either in the cambium layer or in the leaves.
Conifer trees that are fortunate enough to have a good set of mycorrhizae populating their roots have less of a problem with keeping out unwanted/needed minerals such as aluminum, copper, zinc, and other "detrimental metals".
Acidification of soils in conifer forests is an ongoing process where the levels of acids rises then as these acids begin to leach deeper into the horizon layers an equilibrium will begin to establish, at this point the acidification remains more or less stable.

Redhawk
 
Matthew Courville
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Thank you S Bengi and Bryant RedHawk for the  responses!

I am attempting to replicate an acid in a rough estimate of ratios found in this zero horizon layer of the forest.  I then plan to assemble a much stronger % value in order to simulate a catalysed process of the calcite-vein dykes of eastern Ontario, which have been dissolving over time.  Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I would like to attempt various strengths and solutions and apply this to apaite and titanite minerals bound to calcite.

If anyone could hazard an estimate it would be a great working start for my task.  Even an example such as 2:1:1:0.5 ratio would be a lot of help.

Cheers,
Matthew
 
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If you take a look at the phenomenon of podsols, you will see that trees can engineer their own pH and soil conditions to suit them. The most extreme example I know of for this is New Zealand's Agathis australis (Kauri) that, via rainfall leaching through it's litter, creates a zone beneath so depleted it is chalk white, denying access and habitat to otherwise faster growing angiosperms. These trees engineer entire ecosystems. You will find key players in your own environment, you need the ear of a good local ecologist/botanist.

Hazarding a guess at ratios would be total guesswork and rend your efforts gibberish.

I don't think you need the ratios the natural world is dynamic I guarantee variance in species gives you variance in ratios. Start with one acid, test it, next. Then start mixing them up. Find the ratios/dilutions that cause corrosion of your substrates. See if they match local conditions. Once you show these natural acids working on local substrates you should then be able to approach a university to get a project, or local authority for funding.





 
Matthew Courville
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Thank you DC Brown.  I will reach-out to local sources and conduct some experiments.

Cheers,
Matthew
 
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