Canadian Forest Service Publications

AshNet: facilitating the use of wood ash as a forest soil amendment in Canada. 2017. Hannam, K.D.; Venier, L.; Hope, E.; McKenney, D.W.: Allen, D.; Hazlett, P.W. The Forestry Chronicle 93(1):17-20.

Year: 2017

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 37774

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.5558/tfc2017-006

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Abstract

The growing demand for bioenergy has raised concerns about the sustainability of intensive forest biomass removal. Less attention has been paid to the ash generated when forest biomass is combusted to produce energy. In Canada, this ash is often landfilled, but in some countries, wood ash is applied to the soil to maintain or improve soil fertility and forest health. AshNet is a network of Canadian scientists, foresters, policy makers and industry representatives that has formed to address opportunities for and challenges to the use of wood ash as a forest soil amendment. To date, AshNet collaborators have produced a guide to navigating the regulatory approval process, and completed a techno-economic analysis of the costs associated with landfilling wood ash versus using it as a forest soil amendment. Practical methods for optimizing ash quality and applying it on forested sites are being investigated. Applications of wood ash are also being examined as a tool for emulating some of the effects of wildfire on soil chemistry. The results of research trials established by AshNet collaborators across Canada will be shared to help develop and refine forest management policies and practices surrounding soil applications of wood ash. Updates on AshNet’s activities are available at (http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/projects/ 140 (English); http://scf.rncan.gc.ca/projets/140?lang=fr_CA (French)).

Plain Language Summary

Bioenergy can be produced from forest biomass (e.g., tree branches and tops from harvested tree stems; wood salvaged after wildfires or insect outbreaks). The growing demand for bioenergy in Canada has raised concerns about the sustainability of intensive forest biomass removal. However, less attention has been paid to the ash generated when forest biomass is burned to produce energy. In Canada, this ash is often landfilled but, in some countries, wood ash is applied to the soil to maintain or improve soil fertility and forest health. There is growing interest in using ash as a soil amendment in Canadian forests, but relevant, accurate information is hard to find. AshNet is a network of Canadian (including NRCan) scientists, foresters, policy makers and industry representatives that has formed to address opportunities and challenges to the use of wood ash as a forest soil amendment in Canada. The aim of this paper is to make Canadian foresters and forest managers aware of AshNet’s work and to facilitate the exchange of information. To date, AshNet collaborators have produced a guide to navigating the regulatory approval process, and completed a techno-economic analysis of the costs associated with landfilling wood ash versus using it as a forest soil amendment. Practical methods for optimizing ash quality and applying it on forested sites are being investigated. Applications of wood ash are also being examined as a tool for emulating some of the effects of wildfire on soil chemistry. The results of research trials established by AshNet collaborators across Canada will be shared to help develop and refine forest management policies and practices surrounding soil applications of wood ash.

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