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Investigating the use of soil and foliar analyses as indicators of productivity in short rotation plantations in South Africa

Student Number : 9906840R -
MSc research report -
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science / The global increased demand for forest products has led to an increase in the area of exotic fast-growing forest plantations. An understanding of nutrient cycling in plantations is essential to enhance their productivity. Sustainable forest productivity involves the managing of nutrients and genetic factors to maximize yields such that they are increasing or non-declining through the maintenance of soil quality and selection of superior tree species and breeds. Komatiland Forests Limited (KFL), a South African forestry company, initiated a permanent sampling plot (PSP) programme in 1998, where it monitors over 30 foliar and soil parameters, as well as tree growth parameters. This study utilized a subset of the permanent sample plots (PSPs) database to compile a suite of foliar and soil parameters that can be used to better interpret stand productivity in pine plantations. Data from PSPs of pine species Pinus patula, Pinus elliottii and the hybrid Pinus elliottii x caribaea planted on dolomite, granite and shale were used in the statistical analyses as they were well represented in the dataset. The geological analysis revealed that parent material significantly affects soil organic carbon content; soil exchangeable K, soil Fe, soil Mn and foliar Mn concentrations. Exchangeable K was found to be low across the geologies ranging on average from 0.08 – 0.11cmol/kg. An accumulative effect was found in foliar concentration of Mn across the geologies and species, with average foliar Mn concentrations being as high as 1086ppm. No statistically significant differences were found at the geological level in soil N, P, exchangeable Ca, Mg & Na, Al, pH or soil texture. Neither were there any significant differences in foliar concentration of N, P, Ca, Mg, Na, Cu, Fe, Zn, B and S at the geological level of analysis. However significant correlations were found between soil cation exchange capacity, soil pH and foliar concentration of Zn, Mn, Mg and Ca. Pinus patula had significantly higher foliar concentrations of N (p<0.001), P (p<0.001). Mg (p=0.001), B (p=0.001) and S (p<0.001) than the other pine variants under analysis. However when species x geology interaction analysis was used P. patula only had significantly higher foliar concentrations with regard to N (p<0.001) and P (p<0.001), and lower foliar concentrations of Zn (p<0.001) and Na (p=0.041) than the other pine variants under analysis. Across the species and geologies, soil acidification resulted in low Ca (0.15-1.6 cmol/kg) and Mg (0.1-0.7cmol/kg) availability. Positive and significant correlations were found between foliar and soil concentrations of N (p=0.022), P (p=0.030), Mg (p<0.001) and Ca (p<0.001). Productivity of the hybrid was significantly higher than the other two species (p<0.001), while P. elliottii had significantly lower productivity than P. patula (p=0.001). Regression models and a principal component analyses revealed that from the dataset of soil and foliar chemical and physical parameters Mg Soil, CEC, N soil, N foliar, P foliar, K foliar, Cu foliar, B foliar, S foliar, C:N soil, Ca:Al soil, N:Ca foliar, N:K foliar, clay and silt are best correlated with stand productivity.

Identiferoai:union.ndltd.org:netd.ac.za/oai:union.ndltd.org:wits/oai:wiredspace.wits.ac.za:10539/1727
Date15 November 2006
CreatorsMaplanka, Nokukhanya
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
LanguageEnglish
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis
Format534570 bytes, 213383 bytes, application/pdf, application/pdf, application/pdf, application/pdf

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