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Mixed-species plantations of Acacia mangium and Eucalyptus grandis in Brazil : 2. Nitrogen accumulation in the stands and biological N2 fixation

Bouillet J.P., Laclau J.P., Gonçalves J.L.M., Moreira M.Z., Trivelin P.C.O., Jourdan C., Silva E.V., Piccolo M.D.C., Tsai S.M., Galiana A.. 2008. Forest Ecology and Management, 255 (12) : p. 3918-3930.

The sustainability of plantation forests is closely dependent on soil nitrogen availability in short-rotation forests established on low-fertility soils. Planting an understorey of nitrogen-fixing trees might be an attractive option for maintaining the N fertility of soils. The development of mono-specific stands of Acacia mangium (100A:0E) and Eucalyptus grandis (0A:100E) was compared with mixed-species plantations, where A. mangium was planted in a mixture at a density of 50% of that of E. grandis (50A:100E). N2 fixation by A. mangium was quantified in 100A:0E and 50A:100E at age 18 and 30 months by the 15N natural abundance method and in 50A:100E at age 30 months by the 15N dilution method. The consistency of results obtained by isotopic methods was checked against observations of nodulation, Specific Acetylene Reduction Activity (SARA), as well as the dynamics of N accumulation within both species. The different tree components (leaves, branches, stems, stumps, coarse roots, medium-sized roots and fine roots) were sampled on 5-10 trees per species for each age. Litter fall was assessed up to 30 months after planting and used to estimate fine root mortality. Higher N concentrations in A. mangium tree components than in E. grandis might be a result of N2 fixation. However, no evidence of N transfer from A. mangium to E. grandis was found. SARA values were not significantly different in 100A:0E and 50A:100E but the biomass of nodules was 20-30 times higher in 100A:0E than in 50A:100E. At age 18 months, higher d15N values found in A. mangium tree components than in E. grandis components prevented reliable estimations of the percentage of N derived from atmospheric fixation (%Ndfa). At age 30 months, %Ndfa estimated by natural abundance and by 15N dilution amounted to 10-20 and 60%, respectively. The amount of N derived from N2 fixation in the standing biomass was estimated at 62 kg N ha_1 in 100A:0E and 3 kg N ha_1 in 50A:100E by the 15N natural abundance method, and 16 kg N ha_1 in 50A:100E by the 15N dilution method. The total amount of atmospheric N2 fixed since planting (including fine root mortality and litter fall) was estimated at 66 kg N ha_1 in 100A:0E and 7 kg N ha_1 in 50A:100E by the 15N natural abundance method, and 31 kg N ha_1 in 50A:100E by the 15N dilution method. The most reliable estimation of N2 fixation was likely to be achieved using the 15N dilution method and sampling the whole plant. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : fertilité du sol; teneur en azote; fixation de l'azote; culture en mélange; acacia mangium; eucalyptus grandis; sao paulo

Thématique : Systèmes et modes de culture; Production forestière; Fertilité du sol

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