The development of plantations with a new species, such as is occurring with the endemic tree Endospermum medullosum (whitewood) in Vanuatu, requires the resolution of appropriate establishment techniques. Site preparation, fertilisation and weed control have a very large impact on plantation productivity and represent major risks to plantation success. Establishment techniques for tropical species are reviewed and preliminary site preparation and fertilisation trials for whitewood reported. Trials were established at a site on Espiritu Santo island using available general purpose fertiliser with and without micronutrients at two rates. There was no effect of fertiliser over various rates of complete fertiliser with and without micronutrients, designed to provide adequate phosphorus in volcanic ash soils. Ripping had no significant effect on growth, however insufficient hand clearing of vegetation resulted in lower growth due to competition and complete machine clearing of vines results in high temperatures and decreased survival. A serious issue for whitewood establishment in single species plantations is weed management, especially vine control (Merremia spp). The time needed for weed control is influenced by initial planting density and spacing. When inter-planted with mixed gardens of food crops, weed control is not an issue due to more regular tending.
Smith, RGB, Glencross, K, Nichols, JD, Grant, JC & Sethy, M 2012, 'A review of site-preparation, fertilizer and weeding practices for tropical plantation species with recommendations for whitewood (Endospermum medullosum) in Vanuatu', International Forestry Review, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 433-441.
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