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    Eucalyptus plantations occupy almost 20 million ha worldwide and exceed 3.7 million ha in Brazil alone. Improved genetics and silviculture have led to as much as a three-fold increase in productivity in Eucalyptus plantations in Brazil and the large land area occupied by these highly productive ecosystems raises concern over their effect on local water supplies. As part of the Brazil Potential Productivity Project, we measured water use of Eucalyptus grandis x urophylla clones in rainfed and irrigated stands in two plantations differing in productivity. The Aracruz (lower productivity) site is located in the state of Espirito Santo and the Veracel (higher productivity) site in Bahia state. At each plantation, we measured stand water use using homemade sap flow sensors and a calibration curve using the clones and probes we utilized in the study. We also quantified changes in growth, leaf area and water use efficiency (the amount of wood produced per unit of water transpired). Measurements were conducted for 1 year during 2005 at Aracruz and from August through December 2005 at Veracel. Transpiration at both sites was high compared to other studies but annual estimates at Aracruz for the rainfed treatment compared well with a process model calibrated for the Aracruz site (within 10%). Annual water use at Aracruz was 1394 mm in rainfed treatments versus 1779 mm in irrigated treatments and accounted for approximately 67% and 58% of annual precipitation and irrigation inputs respectively. Increased water use in the irrigated stands at Aracruz was associated with higher sapwood area, leaf area index and transpiration per unit leaf area but there was no difference in the response of canopy conductance with air saturation deficit between treatments. Water use efficiency at the Aracruz site was also not influenced by irrigation and was similar to the rainfed treatment. During the period of overlapping measurements, the response to irrigation treatments at the more productive Veracel site was similar to Aracruz. Stand water use at the Veracel site totaled 975mm and 1102mm in rainfed and irrigated treatments during the 5-month measurement period respectively. Irrigated stands at Veracel also had higher leaf area with no difference in the response of canopy conductance with air saturation deficit between treatments.Water use efficiency was also unaffected by irrigation at Veracel. Results from this and other studies suggest that improved resource availability does not negatively impact water use efficiency but increased productivity of these plantations is associated with higher water use and should be given consideration during plantation management decision-making processes aimed at increasing productivity.

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    Hubbard, Robert M.; Stape, Jose; Ryan, Michael G.; Almeida, Auro C.; Rojas, Juan. 2010. Effects of irrigation on water use and water use efficiency in two fast growing Eucalyptus plantations. Forest Ecology and Management. 259: 1714-1721.


    transpiration, Eucalyptus grandis x urophylla, sap flow, canopy conductance

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