Over the last decade high-quality timber plantations have increased in Europe because of the constanthigh market price of timber and economical incentives from the EU. These latter are mainly due to timberplantations’ role in CO2capture. Noble wood plantations have also been established in Mediterraneanareas, but many of them suffer from low growth rates due to deficient plantation management and/ornon-optimal environmental conditions. Furthermore, little information exists about soil and water man-agement in these plantations and how different soil characteristics may affect management results. Inthis study, a trial was established in a pure wild cherry plantation under Mediterranean conditions. Thetrial evaluated the effects that soil type (low soil quality versus good performance for woody crops), soilmanagement (soil tillage versus no tillage), irrigation regime (drip irrigation versus no irrigation) andtheir interactions may have on wood production. Soil water content and the spontaneous vegetation thatappeared in the alleys of the no-tillage treatments were also measured.The results showed that sandy-clay-loam soil with a water-holding capacity of 101.5 ± 5.2 mm had 65%more wood volume increase during the study period than sandy-loam soil with a water-holding capacityof 37.9 ± 8.0 mm. Conventional tillage or zero tillage with the presence of spontaneous vegetation did notdiffer significantly in wood volume increment, regardless of the type of soil. Although soil water contentwas significantly increased by tillage in sandy-loam soil, this effect was not enough to increase tree woodvolume. On the other hand, the application of drip irrigation did increase wood production by up to 50%.Therefore, 10 years less on the plantation’s rotation length can be anticipated when applying irrigation:from 40 to 30 years (sandy–clay–loam soil) and from 56 to 46 years (sandy-loam soil).In conclusion, deep soil characterization of the site is essential before deciding whether to develop aplantation of this type in areas under soil water content limitations caused by deficient soil structureand texture. In addition, our results show important savings can be made by reducing soil tillage, as lesstillage leads to greater ground cover and biodiversity. Further investigations are required to examinehow long-lasting the effects are and what other benefits can be expected when this type of plantation ismanaged in a more sustainable way.
As a result of complex human-land interactions and topographic variability, many Mediterranean mountain catchments are covered by agricultural terraces that have locally modified the soil water content dynamic. Understanding these local-scale dynamics helps us grasp better how hydrology behaves on the catchment scale. Thus, this study examined soil water content variability in the upper 30 cm of the soil on a Mediterranean abandoned terrace in north-east Spain. Using a dataset of high spatial (regular grid of 128 automatic TDR probes at 2.5 m intervals) and temporal (20-min time step) resolution, gathered throughout a 84-day period, the spatio-temporal variability of soil water content at the local scale and the way that different spatio-temporal scales reflect the mean soil water content were investigated.; Soil water content spatial variability and its relation to wetness conditions were examined, along with the spatial structuring of the soil water content within the terrace. Then, the ability of single probes and of different combinations of spatial measurements (transects and grids) to provide a good estimate of mean soil water content on the terrace scale was explored by means of temporal stability analyses. Finally, the effect of monitoring frequency on the magnitude of detectable daily soil water content variations was studied.; Results showed that soil water content spatial variability followed a bimodal pattern of increasing absolute variability with increasing soil water content. In addition, a linear trend of decreasing soil water content as the distance from the inner part of the terrace increased was identified. Once this trend was subtracted, resulting semi-variograms suggested that the spatial resolution examined was too high to appreciate spatial structuring in the data. Thus, the spatial pattern should be considered as random. Of all the spatial designs tested, the 10 x 10 m mesh grid (9 probes) was considered the most suitable option for a good, time-stable estimate of mean soil water content, as no improvement was obtained with the 5 x 5 m mesh grid (30 probes). Finally, the results of temporal aggregation showed that decreasing the monitoring frequency down to 8 h during wetting-up periods and to I day during drying-down ones did not result in a loss of information on daily soil water content variations. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.