Effet de la manipulation des litières aériennes sur les cycles du C et de N dans les sols en plantation d'Eucalyptus au Congo

Abstract : In the last decades, fast-growing plantations have emerged as an important option to supply a growing share of the increasing demand for woody forest products and as an alternative to reduce the pressure on tropical rainforests. A major stake is nowadays to ensure the sustainability of these plantations often established on poor soils with large amounts of biomass exported every 6-7 years. Aboveground litters may play a crucial role on the mineral and the organic soil fertility which drive short- and long-term productivity in these tropical ecosystems. The main objective of our study was to identify the mechanisms involved in the Eucalyptus growth response to aboveground litter removal or addition over the two first years after planting. Apart from measurements of tree growth, the dynamic of nitrogen (N) mineralization in decomposing harvest residues has been studied in several experiments. Nutrient fluxes in soil solutions were compared to nutrient stocks initially contained in ecosystem compartments and to nutrient content within trees at age two years. A complete recovery budget of 15N brought within residues at the harvest was made at the stand scale. The long-term impact of aboveground litter manipulations on soil OM stocks was also assessed. Standard soil analyses (C&N) as well as a complete partitioning of soil CO2 efflux were carried out. The qualitative and quantitative dynamics of dissolved OM received special attention. The results show that the rapid release of potassium and the more progressive release of N contained in aboveground litter largely explain tree growth differences observed among OM management treatments. Eucalyptus tree considerably benefit from the nutrient released throughout litter decomposition since losses by deep drainage were very low as a consequence of soil depth and of the very fast development of roots both in the deep soil layers and in the organic layer. Our study also highlighted the large contribution of the topsoil OM (0-15 cm) for the production of nitrate and dissolved OM in gravitational soil solutions. The use of 15N labelling demonstrated that N is initially retained within the organic layer probably by microbial immobilization; transferred in simultaneous and balanced ways between organic residues components (leaves, barks and branches); and finally transported in particulate OM toward the mineral topsoil layer by gravitational water, supplying thus the soil OM pool on which the soil fertility relies. The retention of aboveground litter contributed to maintain soil OM stocks after the clear-cutting while its removal led to an initial decrease in soil OM stocks at the beginning of the rotation, which seemed to be balanced thereafter by litterfall inputs. The addition of litter led to an increase in dissolved OM fluxes in the first 15 centimeters of the soil profile which remained insignificant in comparison with soil OM stocks and exhibited low interactions with soil OM. Despite the rapid recovery of the soil OM pool, some nutrients might limit the productivity of these plantations after several rotations, as a result of repeated biomass exportation. Consequently, the retention of organic residues at the harvest should be optimized and the exportation of woody biomass must be compensated by fertiliser addition, burning of organic residues must be prohibited and wild fires prevented
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Antoine Versini. Effet de la manipulation des litières aériennes sur les cycles du C et de N dans les sols en plantation d'Eucalyptus au Congo. Sciences agricoles. Université de Lorraine, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012LORR0240⟩. ⟨tel-01749631⟩

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