iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


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.


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

Authors’ address

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


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

Breakdown by View Type

(Waiting for server response...)

Article Usage

Total Article Views: 40109
(from publication date up to now)

Breakdown by View Type
HTML Page Views: 34149
Abstract Page Views: 1584
PDF Downloads: 3324
Citation/Reference Downloads: 47
XML Downloads: 1005

Web Metrics
Days since publication: 2765
Overall contacts: 40109
Avg. contacts per week: 101.54

Article Citations

Article citations are based on data periodically collected from the Clarivate Web of Science web site
(last update: Feb 2023)

Total number of cites (since 2017): 2
Average cites per year: 0.29


Publication Metrics

by Dimensions ©

Articles citing this article

List of the papers citing this article based on CrossRef Cited-by.

Aitken RL, Moody PW, McKinley PG (1990)
Lime requirement of acidic Queensland soils. I. Relationships between soil properties and pH buffer capacity. Australian Journal of Soil Research 28: 695-701.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Bird M, Talberth J (2008)
Waste stream reduction and re-use in the pulp and paper sector. In: Proceedings of the Meeting “Washington State Department of Ecology Industrial Footprint Project”. Santa Fe (NM, USA), August 2008. Center for Sustainable Economy, Santa Fe, NM, USA, pp. 1-45.
Boardman R, Cromer RN, Lambert MJ, Webb MJ (1997)
Forest plantations. In: “Plant analysis: An interpretation manual (2nd edn)” (Reuter DR, Robinson JB eds). CSIRO publishing, Collingwood, Australia, pp. 503-566.
Bohn HL, McNeal BL, O’Connor GA (1979)
Soil Chemistry. Wiley-Interscience, New York, NY, USA, pp. 341.
Dell B, Malajczuk N, Xu D, Grove TS (2001)
Nutrient disorders in plantation eucalyptus (2nd edn). ACIAR Monograph 74, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra, Australia, pp. 104.
Demeyer A, Voundi Nkana JC, Verloo MG (2001)
Characteristics of wood ash and influence on soil properties and nutrient uptake: an overview. Bioresource Technology 77: 287-295.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Donald DGM, Lange PW, Schutz CJ, Morris AR (1987)
The application of fertilizers to pines in South Africa. South African Forestry Journal 141: 53-62.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Dovey SB, du Toit B, De Clercq WP (2014)
Nutrient leaching under zero tension in a subtropical clonal eucalypt plantation on a sandy soil in South Africa. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 31: 153-162.
CrossRef | Gscholar
du Toit B, Arbuthnot A, Oscroft D, Job RA (2001)
The effects of remedial fertilizer treatments on growth and pulp properties of Eucalyptus grandis stands established on infertile soils of the Zululand Coastal Plain. Southern African Forestry Journal 192: 9-18.
CrossRef | Gscholar
du Toit B, Oscroft D (2003)
Growth response of a eucalypt hybrid to fertilization at planting across five site types in Zululand. ICFR Bulletin 21/2003, Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, pp. 30.
du Toit B, Dovey SB, Smith CW (2008)
Effects of slash and site management treatments on soil properties, nutrition and growth of a Eucalyptus grandis plantation in South Africa. In: Proceedings of the Workshop “Site Management and Productivity in Tropical Plantation Forests” (Nambiar EKS ed). Piracicaba (Brazil) 22-26 Nov 2004 and Bogor (Indonesia) 2-9 Nov 2006. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia, pp. 63-78.
Online | Gscholar
Elliott A, Mahmood T (2006)
Beneficial uses of pulp and paper power boiler ash residues. TAPPI Journal 5 (10): 9-16.
Online | Gscholar
Gavrilescu D (2008)
Energy from biomass in pulp and paper mills. Environmental Engineering and Management Journal 7 (5): 537-546. -
Online | Gscholar
Giardina CP, Sanford Jr RL, Dockersmith IC, Jaramillo VJ (2000)
The effects of slash burning on ecosystem nutrients during the land preparation phase of shifting cultivation. Plant and Soil 220: 247-260.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Gonçalves JLM, Wichert MCP, Gava JL, Serrano MIP (2008)
Soil fertility and growth of Eucalyptus grandis under different residue management practices. In: Proceedings of the Workshop “Site Management and Productivity in Tropical Plantation Forests” (Nambiar EKS ed). Piracicaba (Brazil) 22-26 Nov 2004 and Bogor (Indonesia) 2-9 Nov 2006. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia, pp. 51-62.
Guerrini IA, Villas Bôas RL, Benedetti V, Comério J, Moro L (2000)
Application of wood ash and pulp and paper sludge to Eucalyptus grandis in three Brazilian soils. In: “Principles and Practice of Residual Use”. Seattle, College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, pp. 127-131.
Online | Gscholar
Hans RR (2013)
Initial growth responses to controlled release fertilizer application at establishment of commercial forestry species in South Africa. MSc thesis, Department of Forestry and Wood Science, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa, pp. 158.
Online | Gscholar
Herselman JE (2007)
The concentration of selected trace metals in South African soils. PhD thesis, Department of Soil Science, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, pp. 58 + 130.
Online | Gscholar
Jacobson S (2003)
Addition of stabilized wood ashes to Swedish coniferous stands on mineral soils - effects on stem growth and needle nutrient concentrations. Silva Fennica 37 (4): 437-450.
CrossRef | Gscholar
James AK, Thring RW, Helle S, Ghuman HS (2012)
Ash management review - application of biomass bottom ash. Energies 5: 3856-3873.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Laclau JP, Deleporte P, Ranger J, Bouillet JP, Kazotti G (2003)
Nutrient dynamics throughout the rotation of Eucalyptus clonal stands in Congo. Annals of Botany 91 (7): 879-892.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Laidlaw WS, Arndt SK, Huynh TT, Gregory D, Baker AJM (2012)
Phytoextraction of heavy metals by willows growing in biosolids under field conditions. Journal of Environmental Quality 41: 134-143.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Lévai L, Veres S, Gajdos E, Marozsán M, Bákonyi N, Tóth B (2009)
Possibilities in Plant Nutrition. In: Proceedings of the “44th Croatian and 4th International Symposium on Agriculture”. Opatija (Croatia) 16-20 Jan 2009, pp. 556-560.
Online | Gscholar
Mandre M (2006)
Influence of wood ash on soil chemical composition and biochemical parameters of young Scots pine. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences: Biology, Ecology 55: 91-107.
Mandre M, Korsjukov R, Ots K (2004)
Effect of wood ash application on the biomass distribution and physiological state of Norway spruce seedlings on sandy soils. Plant and Soil 265: 301-314.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Nadel RL, Scholes MC, Byrne MJ (2007)
Slash burning, faunal composition, and nutrient dynamics in a Eucalyptus grandis plantation in South Africa. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37: 226-235.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Neary DG, Klopatek CC, DeBano LF, Ffolliott PF (1999)
Fire effects on belowground sustainability: a review and synthesis. Forest Ecology and Management 122: 51-71.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Ohno T, Erich M (1994)
Phosphorus and potassium availability in wood ash-amended soils: an incubation study. In: “Maine Sludge Residuals Utilization Research Foundation Research Report no. 2”. Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA, pp. 1-16.
Online | Gscholar
Ohno T, Erich MS (1990)
Effect of wood ash application on soil pH and soil test nutrient levels. Agriculture Ecosystem Environment 32: 223-239.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Patterson S (2001)
The agronomic benefit of pulp mill boiler wood ash. MSc thesis, Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, pp. 1-142.
Online | Gscholar
Pitman RM (2006)
Wood ash use in forestry - A review of the environmental impacts. Forestry 79: 563-588.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Romanyà J, Khanna PK, Raison RJ (1994)
Effects of slash burning on soil phosphorous fractions and sorption and desorption of phosphorous. Forest Ecology and Management 65: 89-103.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Saarsalmi A, Smolander A, Kukkola M, Moilanen M, Saramäki J (2012)
30-Year effects of wood ash and nitrogen fertilization on soil chemical properties, soil microbial processes and stand growth in a Scots pine stand. Forest Ecology and Management 278: 63-70.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Scheepers GP (2014)
Potential for utilization of wood ash on coastal Zululand soils and its effect on Eucalyptus grandis x urophylla stand nutrition and growth. MSc thesis, Forestry and Wood Science Department, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, pp. 143.
Scheepers GP, du Toit B (2016)
Potential use of wood ash in South African forestry: a review. Southern Forests [in press].
CrossRef | Gscholar
Smith CW, du Toit B (2005)
The effect of harvesting operations, slash management and fertilization on the growth of a Eucalyptus clonal hybrid on a sandy soil. Southern African Forestry Journal 203: 15-26.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Soares MR, Alleoni LRF (2008)
Contribution of soil organic carbon to the ion exchange capacity of tropical soils. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture 32: 439-462.
CrossRef | Gscholar

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info