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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 24(1)

Soil water extraction by a mixed eucalypt forest during a drought period

T Talsma and EA Gardner

Australian Journal of Soil Research 24(1) 25 - 32
Published: 1986


Eucalypt trees growing on deep soils, with a water table at about 8 m depth, showed no apparent drought effects during the 1982-83 dry period in south-east Australia when gross precipitation was only 388 mm. At the end of the drought, soil water to 4 m depth was depleted to a soil water potential of -0.5 MPa and under these conditions unsaturated flow from the water table to the lower root zone was calculated to be 0.17 mm day-1. Water extraction over the depth interval from 0 to 6 m in the drought year was 533 mm, some 200 mm in excess of that used during a year of average rainfall. The contribution to tree water use from unsaturated flow from the water table was calculated to be small (15 mm) even in a drought year, and in most years water movement would be towards the water table to yield a deep drainage term estimated between 40 and 100 mm. Growth ring studies indicated that the lower water use, estimated at 2.6 mm day-1 during the spring-summer drought, did not affect the slowly growing E. radiata species, but reduced stem diameter growth of the faster growing E. dalrympleana and E. pauciflora species.

Full text doi:10.1071/SR9860025

© CSIRO 1986

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