Follow-up watering to improve seedling survival in commercial plantation forests: A short review

Titshall L, Dovey S
Publication Type
Technical Note
Publication Year

Water stress at and soon after planting are major causes of seedling mortality in forestry reestablishment, even during prescribed planting windows. Planting with water (puddle planting) or with hydrogel during unfavourable moisture conditions has limited capacity to sustain adequate water supply to the plant. To ensure adequate water supply it may be beneficial to periodically re-apply water to each plant over short intervals (days to weeks) after planting. This is recommended as a standard practice in Brazil, though no literature to indicate the magnitude of the benefit was found. Other studies in arid sites (<600 mm rainfall) report mixed results of follow-up watering, with plant survival and growth often dependent on prevailing moisture conditions and plant tolerance to drought stress. There appears to be merit in using follow-up watering in some situations, but the required water volume, frequency of watering and additional operational costs need to be evaluated before the practice is adopted. In the absence of data to demonstrate potential improvements in survival and growth benefits in follow-up watering situations, it is suggested that follow-up watering on an operational basis only serves as a precautionary measure with unknown benefit.