Irrigation of tree crops is being evaluated as a method of land disposal of municipal effluent in Australia. A study was carried out from 1980–84 in which seven tree species were sprinkler-irrigated with effluent at an annual rate of 1191–1752 mm. Effective weed control and frequent irrigation resulted in good survival of all species (range 83–100%) at 12 months. Total productivity was estimated at age 4 years by measuring biomass of each species inclusive of litter and roots to a soil depth of 80 cm. Biomass production of the high-yielding species, flooded gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and Sydney blue gum (E. saligna), was around 10 kg m−2. Percentage leaf mass of these species was small (8–9%) compared with 25% and 29% for the relatively slow-growing river she-oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana) and radiata pine (Pinus radiata). Accumulation of nutrients in the total biomass differed significantly between species and ranged from 34–54 g m−2 for nitrogen, 4·0–10·4 g m−2 for phosphorus, 2·1–12·2 g m−2 for sodium, 22–34 g m−2 for potassium, 12–61 g m−2 for calcium and 4·7–9·3 g m−2 for magnesium. River she-oak and river red gum (E. camaldulensis), because of their relatively large crown and litter masses, accumulated more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium than flooded gum or Sydney blue gum. Chemical properties of soils (0–150 cm) were measured in 1980 and again in 1984. Irrigation significantly increased pH (by around 1 unit), throughout the profile. Concentrations of total phosphorus, and exchangeable sodium, calcium and magnesium were increased in the upper profile. Overall, soil chemical properties were not adversely affected by effluent irrigation over the 4-year period, though there was a trend towards more sodic conditions in the soil profile. Nutrient accumulation in soil occurred mainly in the 0–35 cm depth, coinciding with the main root zone of the trees. Renovation of the effluent was therefore estimated as the amount of each nutrient accumulated in the biomass (averaged over the seven species) plus soil (0–35 cm), expressed as a percentage of amount applied in irrigation over the 4 years; that is, nitrogen, 29%; phosphorus, 78%; sodium, 15%; potassium, 26%; calcium, 98% and magnesium, 54%.