Soil and foliar phosphorus as indicators of sustainability for Pinus radiata plantation forestry in New Zealand

We investigated how multiple-crop forestry has influenced the magnitude and variability of soil and plant phosphorus (P) fertility and site disturbance. Kinleith Forest, on Mamaku Plateau, covers >100,000 ha and comprises mainly plantation Pinus radiata. Three study areas in the forest were chosen to represent natural state (native forest), first crop of P. radiata (24 years growth), and second crop of P. radiata (4 years growth of second crop). The adjacent areas have similar relief and climate, and the soils are all the same age, being predominantly Andic Haplohumods developed in 1770 calendar-year-old non-welded tephra (Taupo Ignimbrite, ca. 0.5–0.8 m in thickness) and overlying a buried paleosol on earlier tephric material. Soil properties were compared using a random geometric sampling scheme stratified in a 40-m grid. Soil samples (0–20 cm) were taken at 1.5, 4.5 and 13 m spatial intervals in random directions away from each primary node, providing 192 sample sites for each study area. Additionally at selected sites, samples of the current year's foliage from the upper crowns were collected, the thickness of Taupo Ignimbrite (i.e. depth to buried paleosol) was recorded by augering, and site disturbance was assessed using a new six-point scale based on change relative to a modal soil profile. Geostatistics and geographical information systems (GIS) were used to assess variability and effects of forest management on the measured properties. Soil Bray-2 P concentrations were below guidelines for satisfactory growth (12 mg kg⁻¹) at all sites, and no differences were recorded between the different management areas. However, the amount of within-site variability in Bray-2 P increased with the number of crops. Foliar P concentrations were only marginally deficient in both the first and second crops, indicating that P is currently not significantly limiting growth. The lack of difference in foliar P between first and second crops indicates no crop-to-crop decline in foliar P status and suggests that no site P fertility decline has occurred. The soils have an unusual ability to continue releasing P through successive sequential extractions in the Bray-2 P test, indicating a strong buffering capacity, and this may explain the apparent lack of deficiency even with Bray-2 P values of <12 mg kg⁻¹. The site disturbance index increased and the spatial distribution of P data became increasingly variable with crop rotation. GIS, inverse-distance weighting and kriging proved useful in illustrating the trends between crops. The spatial variability of results indicated that there was no obvious pattern to the variability and that more site-specific forest management in the region would be difficult. However, there was some evidence that less disturbance during harvesting may minimise variability of soil P supply.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Palmer, D.J., Lowe, D.J., Payn, T.W., Hock, B.K., McLay, C.D.A. & Kimberley, M.O. (2005). Soil and foliar phosphorus as indicators of sustainability for Pinus radiata plantation forestry in New Zealand. Forest Ecology and Management, 220(1-3), 140-154.
Elsevier BV