Plant and Soil

, Volume 350, Issue 1–2, pp 221–235 | Cite as

Water use and water-use efficiency of coppice and seedling Eucalyptus globulus Labill.: a comparison of stand-scale water balance components

  • Paul L. DrakeEmail author
  • Daniel S. Mendham
  • Don A. White
  • Gary N. Ogden
  • Bernard Dell
Regular Article



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.


Interception 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.


  1. Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration—Guidelines for computing crop water requirements—FAO Irrigation and drainage paper 56. United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  2. Blake TJ (1983) Coppice systems for short rotation intensive forestry: the influence of cultural, seasonal and plant factors. Aust J For Res 13:279–291Google Scholar
  3. Burgess SSO, Adams MA, Turner NC, Beverly CR, Ong CK, Khan AAH, Bleby TM (2001a) An improved heat pulse method to measure low and reverse rates of sap flow in woody plants. Tree Physiol 21(589–598)Google Scholar
  4. Burgess SSO, Adams MA, Turner NC, Ong CK, Khan AAH, Beverly CR, Bleby TM (2001b) Correction: an improved heat pulse method to measure low and reverse rates of sap flow in woody plants. Tree Physiol 21(1157)Google Scholar
  5. Dell B, Malajczuk N, Xu D, Grove TS (2001) Nutrient disorders in plantation eucalypts. ACIAR, Canberra, p 188Google Scholar
  6. Drake PL, Mendham DS, White DA, Ogden GN (2009) A comparison of growth, photosynthetic capacity and water stress in Eucalyptus globulus Labill. coppice regrowth and seedlings during early development. Tree Physiol 29:663–674PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fleck I, Grau D, Sanjosé M, Vidal D (1996) Carbon isotope discrimination in Quercus ilex resprouts after fire and tree-fell. Oecologia 105(286–292)Google Scholar
  8. Franks PJ, Drake PL, Beerling DJ (2009) Plasticity in maximum stomatal conductance constrained by negative correlation between stomatal size and density: an analysis using Eucalyptus globulus. Plant Cell Environ 32(12):1737–1748PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gentilli J (1972) Australian climatic patterns. Nelson, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  10. Hingston FJ, Galbraith JH, Dimmock GM (1998) Application of the process-based model BIOMASS to Eucalyptus globulus subsp. globulus plantations on ex-farmland in south western Australia—I. Water use by trees and assessing risk of losses due to drought. For Ecol Manage 106(2-3):141–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jeffrey SJ, Carter JO, Moodie KB, Beswick AR (2001) Using spatial interpolation to construct a comprehensive archive of Australian climate data. Environ Model Software 16(4):309–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mitchell PJ, Vaneklaas E, Lambers H, Burgess SO (2009) Partitioning of evapotranspiration in a semi-arid eucalypt woodland in south-western Australia. Ag For Met 149:25–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Poorter H, Nagel O (2000) The role of biomass allocation in the growth response of plants to different levels of light, CO2, nutrients and water: a quantitative review. Aust J Plant Physiol 27(6):595–607Google Scholar
  14. Prebble RE, Forrest JA, Honeysett JL, Hughes MW, McIntyre DS, Schrale G (1981) Field installation and maintenance, In: Soil water assessment by the neutron method. CSIRO, Australia, pp 82–98Google Scholar
  15. Rance SJ, Mendham DS, Cameron DM, Grove TS (2011) An evaluation of the conical approximation as a generic model for estimating stem volume, biomass and nutrient content in young Eucalyptus plantations. Plant Soil (in press)Google Scholar
  16. Santantonio D (1989) Dry-matter partitioning and fine root production in forests-new approaches to a difficult problem. In: Pereira JS, Landsberg JJ (eds) Biomass production by fast-growing trees. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  17. Ward PR, Micin SF (2006) The capacity of dryland lucerne for groundwater uptake. Aust J Ag Res 57:483–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. White DA, Beadle CL, Worledge D (2000) Control of transpiration in an irrigated Eucalyptus globulus Labill. plantation. Plant Cell Environ 23:123–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. White DA, Crombie DS, Kinal J, Battaglia M, McGrath JF, Mendham DS, Walker SN (2009) Managing productivity and drought risk in Eucalyptus globulus plantations in south-western Australia. For Ecol Manage 259:33–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. White DA, Mendham DS, Drake PL, Kinal J, Crombie DS, McGrath JF (2007) The water status of first and second rotation plantations and the effect of management—a brief review and case study from South Western Australia. In: Mendham DS (ed) Sustaining productivity in 2nd and later rotations. CRC for Forestry, Perth, pp 51–70Google Scholar
  21. Vertessy RA, Connell L, Morris JD, Silberstein R, Heuperman A, Feikema P, Mann L, Komarzynski M, Collopy JJ, Stackpole D (2000) Sustainable hardwood production in shallow watertable areas. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, BartonGoogle Scholar
  22. Wildy DT, Pate JS, Bartle JR (2004) Budgets of water use by Eucalyptus kochii tree belts in the semi-arid wheatbelt of Western Australia. Plant Soil 262:129–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul L. Drake
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Daniel S. Mendham
    • 2
    • 3
  • Don A. White
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gary N. Ogden
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bernard Dell
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences and BiotechnologyMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  2. 2.CRC for Forestry Ltd.HobartAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsCentre for Environment and Life SciencesWembleyAustralia
  4. 4.Natural Resources Branch, Department of Environment and ConservationBentley Delivery CentreBentleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations