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Potential for utilization of wood ash on coastal arenosols with limited buffer capacity in KwaZulu-Natal and its effect on eucalypt stand nutrition and growth

Gerhardus Petrus Scheepers, Ben Du Toit   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 180-188 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2146-009
Published: Nov 19, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles


A field trial was established to test the effects of various wood ash and fertilizer application rates on the nutrition and early growth of a clonal Eucalyptus grandis × urophylla stand near Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. The trial consisted of wood ash treatments of 0, 0.3, 0.6 and 1.2 t ha-1, combined with fertilizer treatments of no fertilizer (control), 150 g tree-1 of conventional ammonium sulphate fertilizer or 320 g tree-1 of controlled release fertilizer mixture containing N, P and a balanced suite of several plant nutrients. The experiment was conducted on a young sandy soil of aeolian origin with a very low buffer capacity. Ash application rates were chosen after a pilot study was conducted to test the effect of CaCO3 on the soil reaction. At 4 and 8 months after treatment, soil heavy metal concentrations for cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), chromium (Cr) and lead (Pb) levels were substantially lower than toxic levels. Foliar heavy metal concentrations (for the same elements) were less than 1mg kg-1 at both time intervals. The wood ash induced a temporary liming effect up to 8 months after application. Foliar nutrient assessments revealed sub-optimal nutrient concentrations for phosphorous (P), potassium (K) and zinc (Zn) at 4 months and K at 8 months of age. The positive growth responses (expressed as a biomass index) at 8 months, ranged between 13% and 683% relative to the untreated control. At 21 months, the growth response to ash and fertilizer combinations ranged from -0.5% to 50% relative to the control. This research demonstrated that 1.2 t ha-1 of wood ash can safely be disposed of on a typical, poorly buffered Zululand coastal sand with little environmental risk and minimal growth suppression, provided that it is balanced with an appropriate NPS plus trace element fertilizer mixture.

  Keywords


Wood Ash, Eucalyptus grandis × urophylla, Stand Nutrition, Entisol, Heavy Metals, Fertilizer

Authors’ address

(1)
Gerhardus Petrus Scheepers
Ben Du Toit
Department of Forest and Wood Science, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602 (South Africa)

Corresponding author

 
Ben Du Toit
ben@sun.ac.za

Citation

Scheepers GP, Du Toit B (2016). Potential for utilization of wood ash on coastal arenosols with limited buffer capacity in KwaZulu-Natal and its effect on eucalypt stand nutrition and growth. iForest 10: 180-188. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2146-009

Academic Editor

Claudia Cocozza

Paper history

Received: Jun 20, 2016
Accepted: Oct 04, 2016

First online: Nov 19, 2016
Publication Date: Feb 28, 2017
Publication Time: 1.53 months

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