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Nutrient dynamics throughout the rotation of Eucaluptus clonal stands in Congo

Laclau J.P., Deleporte P., Ranger J., Bouillet J.P., Kazotti J.G.M.. 2003. Annals of Botany, 91 : p. 879-892.

DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcg093

The dynamics of the main nutrient fluxes of the biological cycle were quantified in a clonal Eucalyptus plantation throughout the whole planted crop rotation: current annual requirements of nutrients, uptake from the soil, internal translocations within trees, return to soil (litterfall and crown leaching) and decomposition in the forest floor. As reported for other species, two growth periods were identified in these short-rotation plantations: (1) a juvenile phase up to canopy closure, during which the uptake of nutrients from the soil reserves supplied most of the current requirements; and (2) a second phase up to harvest, characterized by intense nutrient recycling processes. Internal translocation within trees supplied about 30% of the annual requirements of N and P from 2 years of age onwards, and about 50% of the K requirement. The mineralization of large amounts of organic matter returned to the soil with litterfall during stand development represented a key process providing nutrients to the stand at the end of the rotation. The importance of the recycling processes was clearly shown by the small amounts of nutrients permanently immobilized in the ligneous components of trees, compared with the total requirements accumulated over the stand rotation which were two to four times higher. Small pools of nutrients circulating quickly in the ecosystem made it possible to produce high amounts of biomass in poor soils. The sustainability of these plantations will require fertilizer inputs that match the changes in soil fertility over successive rotations, mainly linked to the dynamics of organic matter in this tropical soil.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus; nutrition des plantes; clone; rotation de coupe; plantation forestière; congo

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