Comparison of manure compost and mineral fertilizer for hybrid poplar plantation establishment on boreal heavy clay soils
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Clay soils are typically rich in nutrients but are often compact and hard during summer increasing planting shock by limiting root development. Recycling farm manure in hybrid poplar plantations may offer additional benefits to mineral fertilizer as organic amendment can create better conditions for the early development of roots in addition to nutrient release.
• Material and methods
Composted sheep manure (10 and 20 kg/tree) at planting was compared to N and P mineral fertilization (15 g 34.5–0–0 with 15 g 0–45–0, provided by placed fertilization and 30 g 34.5–0–0 with 30 g 0–45–0).
The highest dose of mineral fertilization was the most efficient approach to increase poplar growth (height, diameter, biomass, leaf, and root development) for the three tested clones. However, trees were more water stressed with less negative δ13C in leaves the second year of growth.
Contrary to what we expected, compost treatments neither increased root development nor tree water status even if they succeeded in improving soil water-holding properties. This may be due to the type of planting stock (rootstock with pruned stems), which reduce water stress by synchronizing leaf and root development, or to compost high maturity and slow mineralization rate under boreal climate. However, compost manure also gave positive growth benefits and could represent a cheaper alternative to synthetic fertilizers in the vicinity of animal feedlots.
KeywordsFast-growing plantation Growth Root development Soil water-holding capacity Water stress
This research was funded by the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife (Volet1 and Volet 2 programs), Norbord, Alpac, Natural Resources Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through a Collaborative and Research Development grant to AD.We also thank MRC Abitibi, Réseau Ligniculture Québec, Centre d’Étude de la Forêt, and Chaire CRSNG-UQAT-UQAM en Aménagement forestier durable.
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