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Ailanthus triphysa at different densities and fertiliser regimes in Kerala, India: growth, yield, nutrient use efficiency and nutrient export through harvest

Shujauddin, Naveed, Kumar, B.Mohan
Forest ecology and management 2003 v.180 no.1-3 pp. 135–151
Ailanthus, biomass production, branches, branchwood, crop-weed competition, fertilizer application, leaf area index, leaves, nutrient content, nutrient use efficiency, nutrients, pests, roots, soil pH, spatial distribution, stemwood, tree trunk, trees, weed control, India
A split plot trial involving Ailanthus triphysa (ailanthus) at four spacings ( m, m, m and m) and four fertiliser regimes (0:0:0, 50:25:25, 100:50:50 and 150:75:75 kg ha−1 per year N, P2O5, K2O) was initiated in June 1991. Objectives included evaluating the growth and yield potential of ailanthus grown under differing density and fertiliser regimes and to estimate the nutrient export through harvest. Ninety-six randomly selected average-sized trees were felled at 8.8 years of age for assessment. Results show that height, diameter, stand leaf area index, biomass production and volume yield were greater in the m spacing. Repeated application of fertilisers at 1.2, 2.25 and 5.25 years after planting had little effect on biomass and volume yields, presumably because of weed competition (despite periodic weed control), higher pest incidence (in the heavily fertilised plots) and/or moderately adequate soil nutrient levels. Regarding partitioning of tree biomass, stem wood represented the principal component (>70%), while foliage contributed the least (<7%). Conversely, foliar N, P and K concentrations were the highest, followed by branch wood, coarse roots and stem wood. Denser stands showed greater accumulation of N, P and K with higher potential for nutrient export through harvest. However, as the bole fraction accounted for only about 56–64% of the total nutrients removed, leaving other biomass components (foliage and branches) at the site will reduce the associated nutrient export. Wider spacings ( m and m) were more efficient in N and K use, but P use efficiency was higher in m. Likewise, trees in the no fertiliser plots exhibited greatest N, P and K use efficiencies. Available soil P, K and organic C levels declined with increasing tree density, while repeated fertilisation increased nutrient concentrations. Soil pH and available P levels declined in comparison to the pre-treatment values.