2023 journal article

Rotation-age effects of subsoiling, fertilization, and weed control on radiata pine growth at sites with contrasting soil physical, nutrient, and water limitations


By: R. Rubilar*, D. Bozo*, T. Albaugh*, R. Cook n, O. Campoe*, D. Carter*, H. Allen, J. Alvarez*, M. Pincheira, A. Zapata

author keywords: Pinus radiata; Productivity; Silvicultural treatments; Long -term response; Self-thinning
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
13. Climate Action (Web of Science)
15. Life on Land (Web of Science)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: August 21, 2023

Although short- and medium-term responses to early silvicultural treatments have been documented, few studies show productivity gains or losses throughout a rotation across a range of soil types and resource availability. We evaluated the rotation length productivity responses of radiata pine to subsoiling, fertilization, and weed control in dry sand (DS), red clay (RC), and recent volcanic ash (RV) soils representing a gradient of physical, nutrient, and water limitations. Stands were planted in 2000 in a split-plot factorial design, with soil preparation (subsoiling vs. shovel planting) as the main plot and fertilization at planting (B only vs. NPKB) and weed control (none vs. 2-year banded application) as factorial randomized treatment plots within the main plots. Annual diameter at breast height, height, survival, and cumulative volume responses were measured. The rotation-age results for cumulative volume showed that early gains from weed control were maintained through at least 15 years of age. At rotation age, weed control increased the cumulative volume at the DS site (56 m3/ha, 20% gain), and the response over time was maintained at the RC site (28 m3/ha, 8% gain), whereas the volume was reduced at the RV site (-36 m3/ha, 7% loss). Fertilization resulted in the greatest response at the RC site (29 m3/ha, 8% gain); there were small responses at the DS site (5 m3/ha, 2% gain) and negative responses at the RV site (-18 m3/ha, 4% loss). Interestingly, subsoiling resulted in null or negative responses at all sites, and negative effects increased over time, with volume responses ranging from −4 m3/ha (1% loss) and −27 m3/ha (7% loss) at the DS and RC sites, respectively, to −116 m3/ha (21% loss) at the RV site. Carrying capacity was reached at mid-rotation at the RV site and resulted in negative treatment effects at rotation age, suggesting the need for thinning or a younger harvest age at this site. Given the negative or null effects of soil preparation, a better understanding is needed for how this silvicultural treatment is affected by soil type and soil strength.