A decision support system for maximising profit from nutrient management of mid-rotation radiata pine

Applying fertilisers to pine plantations after thinning could substantially increase the quality and quantity of wood harvested. This study assessed a range of fertiliser types, spreading rates, seasonality affects, forest growth cycle (i.e. after 1st or 2nd thinning) and previous fertiliser application history, as well as calculating the potential economic benefits.

Results showed that applying nitrogen (N) fertiliser strategically to plots previously fertilised with phosphate (P) increased average stand value by 12 times and increased income $590 per hectare. The most profitable treatment combination over two thinning cycles appears to be nitrogen alone at T2 followed by N+P at T3, or N+P at T2 followed by nitrogen alone at T3.

The study also produced a decision support system that integrated the key findings into a computer spreadsheet model. The model can automatically select the optimum fertiliser form, rate and year of application to maximise different forest management objectives.

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