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Mixed-species plantations of Acacia mangium and Eucalyptus grandis in Brazil : 1. Growth dynamics and aboveground net primary production

Laclau J.P., Bouillet J.P., Gonçalves J.L.M., Silva E.V., Jourdan C., Cunha M.C.S., Moreira M.R., Saint André L., Maquère V., Nouvellon Y., Ranger J.. 2008. Forest Ecology and Management, 255 (12) : p. 3905-3917.

DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2007.10.049

Nitrogen fertilizer inputs increased sharply over the last decade in Brazilian eucalypt plantations. Due to the economic and potential environmental cost of fertilizers, mixed plantations with N-fixing species might be an attractive option to improve the long-term soil N status. A randomized block design was set up in southern Brazil, including a replacement series and an additive series design, as well as a nitrogen fertilization treatment. The development of mono-specific stands of Eucalyptus grandis (0A:100E) and Acacia mangium (100A:0E) was compared with mixed plantations in proportions of 1:1 (50A:50E), and other stands with different densities of acacia for the same density of eucalypts. The objective was to assess the effect of inter-specific interactions on the early development of the two species. Aboveground biomass was measured 6, 12, 18 and 30 months after planting, sampling 6-10 trees of each species per treatment at each age, and allometric equations were established in 0A:100E, 100A:0E, 50A:50E and 50A:100E. The height and basal area of E. grandis seedlings were enhanced by 12% and 30%, respectively by N fertilization at age 1 year. Inter-specific competition led to a stratified canopy, with suppression in acacia growth earlier for basal area than for height. The mean number of stems per acacia tree at 36 months after planting was significantly higher in pure stands (3.7), than in 50A:50E (2.7) and in the additive series (between 1.6 and 1.8). H/D ratios were highly sensitive to inter-tree competition for the two species. The suppressed acacia understorey in mixed-species stands did not influence biomass production and partitioning within eucalypts. This pattern led to biomass accumulation combining the two species in 50A:100E that was about 10% higher than in 0A:100E, from age 12 months onwards. Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) amounted to 25 Mg ha_1 and 37 Mg ha_1 from age 18 to 30 months in 100A:0E and 0A:100E, respectively. Acacia ANPP in 50A:100E amounted to 2 Mg ha_1 over the same period, as a result of substantial inter-specific competition. An increment in biomass production in these very fast-growing eucalypt plantations was achieved introducing acacia as an understorey and not in the 50A:50E design, as observed in other studies.

Mots-clés : eucalyptus grandis; acacia mangium; culture en mélange; compétition végétale; croissance; biomasse; rendement des cultures; sao paulo

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