Plant and Soil

, Volume 175, Issue 1, pp 31–44 | Cite as

Stem deformity inPinus radiata plantations in south-eastern Australia

II. Effects of availability of soil nitrogen and response to fertiliser and lime
  • Peter Hopmans
  • Matt Kitching
  • George Croatto
Research Article


Plantations of radiata pine (P. radiata D.Don) on soils previously under legume based pastures have a high incidence of stem deformity compared with forest soils. A comparison of soil properties and tree nutrition of 5 to 7 year-old radiata pine on former pastures in the first part of the study showed that stem deformity was strongly correlated with mineralisation of soil N and in particular with nitrification. Other soil properties that have changed as a result of pasture improvement, e.g. pH, available P and Mn, were only partially correlated with stem deformity. In the second part of the study, the role of N availability and other soil properties in the expression of deformity was further investigated in a separate field experiment on soils formerly under native eucalypt forest, tobacco cropping, and improved pasture. Young radiata pine plantings were treated with lime, phosphorus, and nitrogen applied as urea and sodium nitrate. Liming increased soil pH by around 1.5 units, raised exchangeable Ca2+ and decreased available Mn. Soil mineral N content was only marginally affected by liming. Superphosphate increased soil available P and raised levels of P in foliage. Changes in soil pH, availability of P, Mn, and B did not affect growth or stem deformity at any of the sites. In contrast, application of N fertilisers at 200 and 600 kg N ha-1 increased mineral N content and stimulated nitrification, particularly at the forest site. The high rate of N fertiliser increased basal area at the forest site by 45%, but also raised the level of stem deformity from 12% to 56%. At the tobacco and pasture sites, this treatment did not increase growth and did not significantly raise stem deformity above the already high basic level of deformity (63%). Implications of stem deformity in young plantations of radiata pine on potential utilisation later in the rotation are discussed.

Key words

lime nitrogen phosphorus radiata pine soil acidity stem deformity 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Hopmans
    • 1
  • Matt Kitching
    • 1
  • George Croatto
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesCentre for Forest Tree TechnologyKewAustralia

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