Water use and water-use efficiency of coppice and seedling Eucalyptus globulus Labill.: a comparison of stand-scale water balance components
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Growers of Eucalyptus globulus Labill. plantations can establish second and later rotations from coppice or by replanting with seedlings. At most locations where E. globulus is grown commercially, water availability is a major driver for productivity. Thus growers must consider which reestablishment technique will maximize productivity whilst sustaining site resources for subsequent rotations. In this study we aimed to compare the stand-scale water balance components of young coppice and seedling E. globulus.
A second rotation E. globulus coppice and seedling trial was monitored for two successive seasonal cycles. Coppice and seedling plots were instrumented with sap flow- and meteorological-sensors so that stand-scale water balance components could be estimated on a daily time step.
Stand-scale transpiration rate (E) and rate of interception (E I) were larger in coppice compared to seedlings, but the rate of soil evaporation (E S) was lower. At approximately 2 years of age each coppice stump was reduced to a single dominant stem, a standard management practice for E. globulus growers, which reduced stem biomass by approximately 70% and caused E to fall to a value approximating that in seedlings. The cumulative transpiration of coppice was 425 mm greater than seedlings up to 34 months of age. Without the coppice reduction (down to one stem/stump), we estimate that the difference would have been much greater. The water-use efficiency of stem production (WUEstem) was greater in young coppice compared to seedlings but this benefit is likely to be offset by the loss of biomass (and thus transpired water) during coppice stem reduction.
Under the conditions of this study, which included reducing coppice to a single stem, reestablishment with seedling E. globulus resulted in a higher water-use efficiency of stem biomass production compared to coppice of a similar age.
KeywordsInterception Sap flow Soil evaporation Stem flow Transpiration Water-use efficiency
Thanks to Tammi Short for technical assistance and Jenny Carter and Libby Pinkard for helpful comments. We are grateful to Hansol PI and Great Southern Plantations for site access. This project was financially supported by the Co-operative Research Centre for Forestry.
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