An investigation was carried out to compare the water balance of Scots pine in Flanders growing on soils with contrasted water availability. Based on sap flow measurements transpiration of Scots pine was determined for two small plots on cover sands resting on a clayey substratum of varying depths (shallow and deep). Soil water content (SWC) was relatively low (0.12–0.21 m3 m-3) in the upper topsoil (0–0.75 m) in both plots. However, it was always higher in the shallow plot (by 3–27%) than in the deep plot. The difference between SWC in both plots was more pronounced in the deeper soil layers (0.75–1.5 m). Sap flow was measured in seven sample pine trees on each plot from May to October 2000 using the heat field deformation (HFD) method. Transpiration of the individual trees in the deep plot was 22% lower than in trees in the shallow plot. The difference decreased to 15% after scaling up to the stand level due to a higher density of trees growing in the deep plot. It was hypothesized that higher water uptake in the shallow plot was possibly caused by structural differences between the root systems of trees growing in plots with variable soil texture. The sapwood in shallow-plot trees was 1 cmless deep than in trees growing in the deep plot (as measured by biometric and sap flow pattern methods). Sap flow radial patterns suggested a higher involvement of sinker roots for water uptake in the deep clayey substratum plot. This was in agreement with higher activity of the inner xylem in trees on the deep plot under higher evaporative demands. However, the fraction of the inner xylem to the whole-tree water supply was nearly three-fold lower than the outer xylem, which appeared to provide water presumably from the superficial roots. The fraction of these roots, estimated according to sap flow radial patterns, was around 10% higher in trees on the shallow plot. This caused 30% higher sap flow in the stem outer xylem there. Transpiration of the pine stands was limited under high evaporative demands in both plots by the low availability of soil water. The limitation was greater in the deep plot and persisted throughout the whole growing season.
- Forest management
EWI Biomedical sciences