Understorey effects on phosphorus fertiliser response of second-rotation Pinus radiata : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The current silvicultural regimes of Pinus radiata plantations in New Zealand with wider initial tree spacings have created the potential for increased growth of understorey vegetation. A consequence of this is that the response of P. radiata to P fertiliser is expected to be more influenced by the interaction between the P fertiliser, the tree and the understorey vegetation than was the case in the past. The objectives of this study were to investigate the influence of different rates of a soluble and a sparingly-soluble P fertiliser (Triple superphosphate and Ben-Geurier phosphate rock) and weed control, and their interactions, on soil P chemistry and the growth and P uptake of 4-5-year-old second-rotation P. radiata on an Allophanic Soil (Kaweka forest) and a Pumice Soil (Kinleith forest). The results showed that the application of P fertilisers had no effect on P. radiata growth at both field trial sites two years after this treatment, although it increased radiata needle P concentration. However, at both sites, the understorey vegetation removal treatment increased tree diameter at breast height and basal area. At the highly P-deficient (Bray-2 P 4 µg g-1) Kaweka forest, the presence of understorey (bracken fern and some manuka) reduced resin-Pi and Olsen P concentrations, but at the moderate P fertility (Bray-2 P 13 µg g-1) Kinleith forest, the understorey (Himalayan honeysuckle, buddleia and some toetoe) increased Bray-2 P, resin-Pi, and Olsen P concentrations. A glasshouse study on P. radiata seedlings was conducted to test the hypothesis that when ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) is grown with P. radiata, it increases radiata needle P concentration, while when broom (Cytisus scoparius L.) is grown with P. radiata, it has no effect. The acid phosphatase activity in the rhizosphere of P. radiata was higher when radiata was grown with broom than that when it was grown with ryegrass. This is consistent with the higher P concentration in needles of radiata grown with broom than that of radiata grown with ryegrass, in the absence of P fertiliser addition. However, when P fertiliser was added (50 and 100 µg P g-1 soil) the needle P concentration of radiata grown with broom was lower than that when radiata was grown with ryegrass.