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Dynamics of biomass and nutrient accumulation in rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations established on two soil types: Implications for nutrient management over the immature phase

Perron T., Mareschal L., Laclau J.P., Deffontaines L., Deleporte P., Masson A., Cauchy T., Gay F.. 2021. Industrial Crops and Products, 159 : 13 p..

Rubber trees are the main source of natural rubber (NR). The area occupied by rubber plantations rose from 3.9 million ha in 1961 to 12.5 million ha in 2018. Both the expansion of rubber plantations in marginal zones (prone to biotic and abiotic stress), and long-term rubber tree cultivation in traditional areas, raise questions about the sustainability of NR production in a context of climate change. Our study set out to gain insights into the biogeochemical cycles in rubber plantations, for a better matching of fertilizer inputs to the dynamics of nutrient demand throughout rubber tree growth. Nutrient accumulation in tree biomass is a major component of the biological cycle in tree plantations. We studied the dynamics of biomass and nutrient accumulation in two chronosequences covering the whole lifespan of a plantation in Ivory Coast managed on a sandy soil at the SAPH site, and one on a clayey soil at the SOGB site. In total, 56 trees were destructively sampled in 2-, 5-, 20- and roughly 40-year-old stands. While the use of allometric relationships is common for estimating nutrient stocks in planted forests, this study was the first to provide allometric equations predicting nutrient stocks in rubber tree components. Allometric models were applied to the inventory of 4 commercial stands, for each age at each site, to estimate stand biomass and nutrient stocks. The current annual increments of nutrient stocks in tree biomass peaked between 2 and 5 years after planting. They reached 80 kg ha-1 yr-1 for N, 14 kg ha-1 yr-1 for P and 34 kg ha-1 yr-1 for K at SAPH (53, 7, and 39 kg ha-1 yr-1 respectively at SOGB), which highlighted the importance of an appropriate fertilization schedule for young rubber trees. At the clear-cut age (38¿40 years), the amounts of nutrients accumulated in tree biomass were 970 kg N ha-1, 188 kg P ha-1, 366 kg K ha-1, 941 kg Ca ha-1 and 255 kg Mg ha-1 on the sandy soil at SAPH (907,118, 629 1499, and 375 kg ha-1 respectively on the clayey soil at SOGB). Contrasting soil properties and management practices at the two sites had a much greater effect on the amounts of P, K, Ca and Mg accumulated in the trees than on N accumulation. Logging practices in rubber plantations can lead to considerable nutrient exports on poor tropical soils. Harvest residues should be distributed uniformly in the plots so that the roots of young trees can quickly gain access to the nutrients released during decomposition.

Thématique : Physiologie végétale : nutrition; Physiologie et biochimie végétales; Fertilité du sol

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