iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Linking nursery nutritional status and water availability post-planting under intense summer drought: the case of a South American Mediterranean tree species

Juan F Ovalle (1), Eduardo C Arellano (1-2)   , Juan A Oliet (3), Pablo Becerra (1-2), Rosanna Ginocchio (1-2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 5, Pages 758-765 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1905-009
Published: Jun 03, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Drought-avoidance traits of South American Mediterranean tree species are crucial attributes to be considered in nursery practices aimed at improving the performance of seedlings exposed to intense summer drought in dryland reforestation projects. In this study, we determined the relation between nursery fertilization doses and the development of drought-avoidance traits of the soapbark tree Quillaja saponaria (Mol.) under contrasting watering regimes following post-planting. Seedlings were grown for 6 months using four increasing doses of controlled-release fertilizer (0, 3, 6, and 12 g L-1 of Basacote® Plus 15:8:12). After outplanting, half of the seedlings were watered weekly and the other half were left unwatered for one growing season from September 2011 to May 2012. Seedlings were periodically measured for morphological and ecophysiological parameters, and carefully harvested for root measurements at the end of the study. Our results showed that high fertilization doses produced significantly larger seedlings in the nursery with high nitrogen and phosphorous foliar concentrations, which resulted in a significantly higher shoot dry mass after outplanting. Unfertilized seedlings grown with water application had a significantly higher stem diameter, root dry mass and lower shoot/root compared with seedlings with high fertilizer dose. These results highlight the ability of this species to maintain drought-avoidance traits, such as high xylem water potential and chlorophyll fluorescence, during the first 3 months of the 7-month drought period. High nutrient loading, although resulting in improved shoot productivity after outplanting, did not make a significant contribution to the early development of drought-avoidance traits in Q. saponaria.


Dryland Forest Restoration, Plant Quality, Root Architecture, Seedling Fertilization, Water-stress Resistance

Authors’ address

Juan F Ovalle
Eduardo C Arellano
Pablo Becerra
Rosanna Ginocchio
Center of Applied Ecology & Sustainability (CAPES), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 340, 8320000 Santiago (Chile)
Eduardo C Arellano
Pablo Becerra
Rosanna Ginocchio
Departamento de Ecosistemas y Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería Forestal, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Avenida Vicuña Mackenna 4860, 8320000 Santiago (Chile)
Juan A Oliet
Department of Natural Systems and Resources, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040 Madrid (Spain)

Corresponding author

Eduardo C Arellano


Ovalle JF, Arellano EC, Oliet JA, Becerra P, Ginocchio R (2016). Linking nursery nutritional status and water availability post-planting under intense summer drought: the case of a South American Mediterranean tree species. iForest 9: 758-765. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1905-009

Academic Editor

Claudia Cocozza

Paper history

Received: Oct 27, 2015
Accepted: Jan 22, 2016

First online: Jun 03, 2016
Publication Date: Oct 13, 2016
Publication Time: 4.43 months

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