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ORGANIC MATTER MANAGEMENT IN EUCALYPTUS FORESTRY TO ENHANCE SOIL STRUCTURE, STABILITY AND NUTRITION

Objective

The aim of the project is to develop optimal soil management protocols for Eucalyptus forestry in Portugal (a warm dry climate) and in the Asturias region of Spain (a warm wet climate). Intensive forestry has led to nutrient depletion and to a breakdown in the soil structure in both areas with the resulting risk of erosion and desertification in Portugal and down-slope erosion and reduced tree stability in Spain. The incorporation of organic matter, from a previous crop, into soil during site preparation procedures is seen as a potential method to improve the soil. This improvement will enhance soil nutrient status, water holding capacity, soil structure, microbial and faunal diversity, to produce a soil resource capable of sustaining long-term forestry with minimal inorganic fertiliser inputs.

Four organic matter treatments will be included when the experimental plots are set up : complete removal of organic matter, leaving organic matter on the soil surface, incorporation to a depth of 20 cm and aggregating woody debris between the rows of trees. The research will be integrated between a university team in Portugal, a small/medium forestry firm in Spain and research institutes in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, where the expertise on tree nutrition, soil chemistry and soil micromorphology is available. The consortium will study the effects of these treatments on tree growth, rooting patterns, tree nutrition, soil chemistry, aggregate stability, soil microstructure and soil community development.

The programme will determine an optimum treatment to be recommended as a protocol for commercial forest site preparation in areas at risk in Europe. The world-wide scale of Eucalyptus plantation on marginal and degraded land emphasises the importance of this work and the potential scale of the application of the results obtained from it.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology
Address
Merlewood Research Station Windermere Road
LA11 6JU Grange-over-sands
United Kingdom

Participants (3)

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH DPT.
Netherlands
Address
P.o.box 25
6700 AC Wageningen
CEASA
Spain
Address

33710 Navia - Asturias
INST. SUPERIOR DE AGRONOMIA
Portugal
Address
Tapada Da Ajuda
1399 Lisboa