Saturday, May 30, 2009

Crop combinations

There are three types of Agroforestry systems namely, Agrisilvicultural, Agrihorticultural and Agrihortisilvicultural.

Among the above three systems Agrihortisilvicultural is highly diverse in vegetation, with many tree and agricultural crops mixed together resulting in highest productivity of total aboveground biomass per hectare per year.

Models Crop Combinations
1 Agri-Silviculture - Casuarina + Maize / Fodder Sorghum / Pulses
Casuarina + Vegetables (Chillies / Tomatoes / Pumpkin / Groundnut)

2 Horti + Silvi - Casuarina + Mango
Casuarina + Coconut
Casuarina + Banana
Casuarina + Teak + Papaya
Casuarina + Drumstick + Hybrid Tomato
Casuarina + Tamarind + Drumstick
Casuarina + Teak + Eucalyptus + Guava

3 Silvipasture - Casuarina + Napier grasses

4 Bund Planting - Casuarina as Wind Breaks

5 Block Planting - Block planting of Casuarina

6 Line / Boundary Planting Boundary planting in single as well as double rows.
Casuarina + Teak on Boundary
Casuarina + Coconut as line planting

7 Homestead Multi-storeyed Cropping System - Teak / Casuarina / Banana / Vegetables.

Please see the comments section below this post for more details regarding "Tree crop combinations" diagram uploaded here under:



A.Vishnu Sankar

Gmelina arborea (Tamil :Kumil)

Name of the plant - Gmelina arborea (Tamil : Kumil, Kumul)

‘N’ fixing capacity - NO

Fodder Tree - Good Fodder

Deciduous - NO

Drought tolerance - YES. Without water even up to 7 months

Soil type / pH range - Red soil, Calciferous, Mixed soil. The tree will die if planted in high clay soil and in water logging area after initial establishment.

Tolerance to water logging - No tolerance. Tree wil die.

Seeds - 1200 to 1400 seeds / kg

Germination - 90%

Vegetative propagation - Possible

Spacing for border planting - 2 m x 2 m

For bulk planting - 5 m x 5 m

Maturity - Min 5 years to Max 10 years

Growth : - In normal condition: 12 m Ht to 15 m Ht with a girth of 40 inches and in irrigated conditions max 30 m Ht with a dia of 60 – 70 inches.

Yield - 25 – 30 Sq.m / Hect / Year

Timber Density - 0.42 to 0.64, Hard wood,

Weight - 480 Kgs / sq. m

Uses - For furniture, Paper mills, particle boards, match boxes, match sticks and craft paper.

Ratoon - Good. Ratoon crop attains maturity in 5 Years.

Special features if any - Prone to pest attack. Bulk cropping attracts more pests (Borers) so go for mixed cropping. Continuous pruning is necessary. Performs well even in dry areas but tremendous growth is noticed in irrigated conditions. Can be grown as wind belt. It is one of the fastest growing trees in the world.

For more Gmelina arborea - KUMIL pictures : Click here

For more cultivation details on Gmelina arborea - KUMIL: Click here

For queries and comments on Gmelina arborea - KUMIL: Click here

Cassia Siamea (Tamil : Manja Kondrai)

Name of the plant - Cassia Siamea (Tamil :Manja Kondrai, Panni Vagai )

‘N’ fixing capacity - NO

Fodder Tree - NO

Deciduous - NO

Drought tolerance - NO

Soil type / pH range - Almost any soil, even in clay.
Tolerance to water logging - NO
Seeds - 35000 to 40000 seeds / kg

Germination - 80 to 90%

Vegetative propagation - NO

Spacing for border planting- 2 m
For bulk planting - 3 m x 3 m
Maturity - 9 years

Growth : Height - 15 m Ht in _?_ years

Girth - 2 m

Yield - 15 Sq.m / hect / in 7 years

Timber Density - 0.6 to 0.8

Weight - 865 Kgs / Sq. m , Hard wood, durable

Uses - Main bole for pillars, furniture, good firewood

Ratoon - Poor, not recommended.

Special features if any - Tree with thick canopy so, good as wind breaker. Growth is very slow in the first 2 years. A good green manure / leaf mulch providing crop. It can regenerate well even if the branches are pruned annually for leaf mulch. Performs well in irrigated lands. Grow it near compost pit, to give shade and to provide leaf mulch.

Acacia auriculiformis - Pencil tree (Kaththi Savukku)

Name of the plant - Acacia auriculiformis
(Tamil : Pencil, Kaththi Savukku, Kaththi Karuvel, Elai Karuvel, Thatcher Maram)

‘N’ fixing capacity - In root nodules. Capacity next only to Leucaena leucocephala {“Savundal or Subapul in Tamil}

Fodder Tree - Fodder difficult to digest so mix it with other leaves.

Deciduous - 3 to 4.5 tons / Hect / annum

Drought tolerance - Best but next only to Eucalyptus

Soil type / pH range - Almost any soil. min pH 3.0 to max pH 9.0

Tolerance to water logging - Good. Tolerates upto 6 months.

Seeds - 38000 to 42000 seeds / kg

Germination - 40%

Vegetative propagation - Possible

Spacing for border planting- 5 Feet

Spacing for bulk planting - Initial 1.83 m X 1.83 m and remove 50% after 4th Year to obtain vertical growth.

Maturity - 9 years

Growth : Height - 6 m Ht in 2 years, 17 m Ht on 8th year

Girth -

Yield - 5 Sq.m / Hect / Year

Timber Density - 0.6 to 0.75

Weight -

Uses - For Paper mills, Furniture

Ratoon - Poor, not recommended.

Special features if any - Performs well in humid areas with irrigation facility. It can turn even problematic soil to fertile soil due to its ‘N’ fixing capacity in root nodules and its tendency to shed large amount of leaves. Growth equals to Eucalyptus. Growth rapid even planted among other densely planted crops.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Plant hormones and growth regulators

Plant hormones and growth regulators are chemicals that affect flowering; aging; root growth; distortion and killing of leaves, stems, and other parts; prevention or promotion of stem elongation; color enhancement of fruit; prevention of leafing and/or leaf fall; and many other conditions. Very small concentrations of these substances produce major growth changes.

Hormones are produced naturally by plants, while plant growth regulators are applied to plants by humans. Plant growth regulators may be synthetic compounds (e.g., IBA and Cycocel) that mimic naturally occurring plant hormones, or they may be natural hormones that were extracted from plant tissue (e.g., IAA).

Applied concentrations of these substances usually are measured in parts per million (ppm) and in some cases parts per billion (ppb). These growth-regulating substances most often are applied as a spray to foliage or as a liquid drench to soil around a plant's base. Generally, their effects are short lived, and they may need to be reapplied in order to achieve the desired effect.

There are five groups of plant-growth-regulating compounds: auxin, gibberellin (GA), cytokinin, ethylene, and abscisic acid (ABA). For the most part, each group contains both naturally occurring hormones and synthetic substances.

Auxin causes several responses in plants:

  • Bending toward a light source (phototropism)
  • Downward root growth in response to gravity (geotropism)
  • Promotion of apical dominance
  • Flower formation
  • Fruit set and growth
  • Formation of adventitious roots

Auxin is the active ingredient in most rooting compounds in which cuttings are dipped during vegetative propagation.
Gibberellins stimulate cell division and elongation, break seed dormancy, and speed germination. The seeds of some species are difficult to germinate; you can soak them in a GA solution to get them started.

Unlike other hormones, cytokinins are found in both plants and animals. They stimulate cell division and often are included in the sterile media used for growing plants from tissue culture. If a medium's mix of growth-regulating compounds is high in cytokinins and low in auxin, the tissue culture explant (small plant part) will produce numerous shoots. On the other hand, if the mix has a high ratio of auxin to cytokinin, the explant will produce more roots. Cytokinins also are used to delay aging and death (senescence).

Ethylene is unique in that it is found only in the gaseous form. It induces ripening, causes leaves to droop (epinasty) and drop (abscission), and promotes senescence. Plants often increase ethylene production in response to stress, and ethylene often is found in high concentrations within cells at the end of a plant's life. The increased ethylene in leaf tissue in the fall is part of the reason leaves fall off trees. Ethylene also is used to ripen fruit (e.g., green bananas).

Abscisic acid (ABA) is a general plant-growth inhibitor. It induces dormancy and prevents seeds from germinating; causes abscission of leaves, fruits, and flowers; and causes stomata to close. High concentrations of ABA in guard cells during periods of drought stress probably play a role in stomatal closure.

Indole-3-butyric acid :

Indole-3-butyric acid (1H-Indole-3-butanoic acid, IBA) is a white to light-yellow crystalline solid, with the molecular formula C12H13NO2. It melts at 125 °C in atmospheric pressure and decomposes before boiling.

As a plant Harmone:
IBA is a plant hormone in the auxin family and is an ingredient in many commercial plant rooting horticultural products.

For use as such, it should be dissolved in about 75% (or purer) alcohol (as IBA does not dissolve in water), until a concentration from between 10,000 ppm to 50,000 ppm is achieved - this solution should then be diluted to the required concentration using distilled water. The solution should be kept in a cool, dark place for best results.
This compound had been thought to be strictly synthetic; however, it was reported that the compounds was isolated from leaves and seeds of maize and other species.
[ To continue ]


Dear friends,
All of you might have come across the following terms once in a while. This is just to recollect the forgotten ones.
1.Bot. having separate male flowers and female flowers on the same plant, as in corn
2.Zool. having both male and female reproductive organs in the same individual; hermaphroditic
Biol. having the male reproductive organs in one individual and the female organs in another; having separate sexes
1.falling off or out at a certain season or stage of growth, as some leaves, antlers, insect wings, or milk teeth
2.shedding leaves annually: opposed to EVERGREEN
3.short-lived; temporary
a thicket of small trees or shrubs; coppice
a place where many kinds of trees and shrubs are grown for exhibition or study
1 [Rare] wooded land; forest land
2 the science of planting and taking care of forests
3 systematic forest management for the production of timber, conservation, etc.
silviculture n.
the art of cultivating a forest; forestry
the scientific cultivation of trees and shrubs
1 a biennial event or occurrence, happening every two years

2 Bot. a plant that lasts two years, usually producing flowers and seed the second year
coming twice a year;
concerning an ornamental garden,
designating or of the art of trimming and training shrubs or trees into unusual, ornamental shapes
pl. topiaries
1 topiary art or work
2 a topiary garden
A predator is an organism that attacks, kills, and feeds on several to many other individuals (its prey) in its lifetime.
Insect parasites (parasitoids):
Larval stages of insect parasites feed on or inside of other insects, killing their hosts. Adults are free-living wasps or flies.
Eg: Chrysopa spp., Chrysoperla spp. Cryptolaemus montrouzieri

(Parasite: An organism that lives in or on another organism (the host) during some portion of its life cycle. Parasitoid: An animal that feeds in or on another living animal, consuming all or most of its tissues and eventually killing it.)
1.belonging to a group, flock, herd
2 fond of the company of others; sociable
Bot. growing in clusters
(Example: Gregarious flowering in Bamboo) Opp. Sporadic flowering

Apical dominance

In some plants, the lateral bud located in the axil of each leaf does not grow to form branches, especially at first; this condition is known as apical dominance.

( To continue )

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

High income crops - a safe move

Dear Friends,

There are high yielding / high income yielding / high value crops in Agriculture, Horticulture & Medicinal plants and Silviculture. 

You have to be very careful in selecting the type of crop that suits your soil type and climatic conditions of your area.

It is not advisable to switch over from the traditional farming to high value crops all of a sudden.

A safe move will be to adopt 33:33:33 concept:

33% traditional Agriculture for normal gains +

33% Horti for moderate to good profits + 

17% Nitrogen fixing trees/legumes to enhance soil fertility + 
17% High value timber trees for assured profits.

The 33% concept can be described in detail as under:

For more details: Agroforestry - A Ppt presentation.

For more details click: 
  1. Agroforestry for soil health. 
  2. Agroforestry - A Ppt presentation. 
Thanking you,

A.Vishnu Sankar

Dalbergia sissoo and Dalbergia latifolia

Dear Friends,

The following clarification is necessary in order to differentiate 'East Indian Rose Wood' from '
Indian Rose Wood'.

The name Dalbergia is the Genus name and the both Dalbergia latifolia and Dalbergia sissoo are some of the important species.

Dalbergia Latifolia is the East Indian Rose Wood (Thothakathi in Tamil), which is highly valuable and the most sought after one in the market.

Whereas Dalbergia sissoo is an Indian variety (Also called as Sisu and Sheesham ) and should not be confused or compared with Dalbergia latifolia. Though D.sissoo variety yields good medium hard timber, it is an inexpensive one when compared with Dalbergia latifolia and our Indian souvenir trade sells objects made of it as if they were rosewood. Hence D.sissoo variety is called as Indian Rose Wood.

D.sissoo is a Nitrogen Fixing Tree and grows well in densely planted farms or when it is mixed with other tree varieties. Regular pruning is necessary to control it's haphazard growth.

Please refer the following link to know more about: 'Indian Rose Wood'.-Sissoo/ Sisu.


Vishnu Sankar

Gmelina arborea (Tamil :Kumil)

Name of the plant - Gmelina arborea (Tamil : Kumil, Kumul)

Dear Friends,

Gmelina arborea (Tamil : Kumil Tree or Kumul) is a rapidly growing tree, which due to its drought tolerance and excellent wood properties, is emerging as an important plantation species. The contents I have given below are gleaned from various websites and edited for your easy reading.

Gmelina arborea From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Local names
Gmelina arborea is locally called by different names in different languages:
• Assamese- gomari
• Bengali- gamari, gambar, gumbar
• Gujarati- Shewan, Sivan
• Hindi- gamhar, khamara, khumbhari, sewan
• Kannada- kulimavu, kumbuda, kumulu
• Kasmiri- mara, shivani
• Latvian - gmelīne
• Malayalam- kumbil, kumbulu, kumilu, kumiska, pokki
• Maltese - sigra
• Marathi- shivan, siwan
• Oriya- bhodropornni, gambari, kumar
• Punjabi- gumhar, kumhar
• Sanskrit- bhadraparni, gambhari, gandhari, kasmari,
krishnavrintaka, sarvatobhadra, shriparni
• Tamil- kumla, kumalamaram, kumil, ummithekku
• Telugu- gumartek, gummadi, summadi
• Sinhala- Demata
Tree characteristics

Gmelina arborea is a fast growing deciduous tree, which though grows on different localities at altitudes up to 1500 meters and prefers moist fertile valleys with 750-4500 mm rainfall. It does not thrive on ill-drained soils and remains stunted on dry, sandy or poor soils; drought also reduces it to a shrubby form.

The Gmelina arborea tree attains moderate to large height up to 30 m with girth of 1.2 to 4.5 m with a clear bole of 9-15 m. It has a smooth whitish grey (ashy) corky bark, warty with lenticular tubercles exfoliating in regular patches when old.

It is a treat to see the Gmelina arborea tree standing straight with clear bole having branches on top and thick foliage forming a conical crown on the top of the tall stem. The bark is light grey coloured, exfoliating in light coloured patches when old, blaze thick, a chlorophyll layer just under the outer bark, pale yellow white inside.

Gmelina arborea wood is pale yellow to cream coloured or plukish-buff when fresh, turning yellowish brown on exposure and is soft to moderately hard, light to moderately heavy, lustrous when fresh, usually straight to irregular or rarely wavy grained and medium course textured. Flowering takes place during February to April when the tree is more or less leafless whereas fruiting starts from May onwards up to June.

This tree is commonly planted as a garden and an avenue tree and also in villages along agricultural land, on village community lands and on wastelands. It is light demander, tolerant of excessive drought, but moderately frost hardy, has good capacity to recover in case of frost- injury.

This tree coppices (a thicket of small trees or shrubs; coppice) very well with vigorous growth. Saplings and young plants need protection from deer and cattle.

Utilization of the species
Gmelina arborea timber is reasonably strong for its weight. It is used in constructions, furniture, carriages, sports, musical instruments and artificial limbs. Once seasoned, it is a very steady timber and moderately resistant to decay and ranges from very resistant to moderately resistant to termites.

Medicinal uses
The root and bark of Gmelina arborea are stomachic, galactagogue laxative and anthelmintic; improve appetite, useful in hallucination, piles, abdominal pains, burning sensations, fevers, 'tridosha' and urinary discharge. Leaf paste is applied to relieve headache and juice is used as wash for ulcers.
Flowers are sweet, cooling, bitter, acrid and astringent. They are useful in leprosy and blood diseases.
In Ayurveda, it has been observed that Gamhar fruit is acrid, sour, bitter, sweet, cooling, diuretic tonic, aphrodisiac, alternative astringent to the bowels, promote growth of hairs, useful in 'vata', thirst, anaemia, leprosy, ulcers and vaginal discharge.
The plant is recommended in combination with other drugs for the treatment of snakebite and scorpion sting. In snakebite a decoction of the root and bark is given internally.

GAMHAR (Gmelina arborea): Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehradun

Performance of Gmelina arborea with Vam Inoculation in Acid Soil
Result: VAM inoculated seedlings were significantly taller than the uninoculated trees. Gmelina inoculated with VAM was significantly bigger and produced higher biomass compared to the control.

Pests and diseases:
Perhaps the greatest threat to plantations of this tree is damage due to pests and diseases. Numerous insect pests and pathogens have been recorded in stands of gmelina in areas where the trees are native.
• Some fungal pathogens have been introduced into areas where the trees have been established as exotics. Among these, leaf spot caused by Pseudocercospora ranjita is most widespread although it has not caused any substantial damage. A serious vascular wilt disease caused by Ceratocystis fimbriata in Brazil has caused the most significant failure of G. arborea in plantations.
• In plantations within the natural range of the tree, insects have caused substantial damage. Among these, the defoliator Calopepla leayana (Chrysomelidae) appears to be most important. No serious insect pest problems have been recorded where G. arborea is grown as an exotic.
All indications are that pathogens and insect pests will become much more serious impediments to the propagation of gmelina in the future. However, excellent opportunities exist to resolve such problems through biological control of insects and integrated disease and pest management.

In addition, gmelina can be vegetatively propagated and thus, breeding and selection for insect and pathogen tolerance will facilitate the propagation of healthy trees.

The species has generated much interest because of its fast growth (the wood density of gmelina is approximately 410 kg/m3 at 8 years of age) and quick return on investment.

Provenance research in Gmelina arborea Linn., Roxb.
Can be seen in this link:

Click the image to get a enlarged view

Monday, May 25, 2009

An overview of border / avenue crops in my farm

The following PPt slides were presented by me at the seminar jointly organized by Tamilnadu Forest Extension Centre and Indian Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding Insititute (IFGTB) Coimbatore held at IFGTB premises on 7th and 8th of March 2009 on the topic of "Profitable commercial Tree cultivation ."

The main theme of my presentation is emphasizing farmers to go for "Tree plants on farm bunds and borders" on a massive scale to get assured profits.

( Click the image to get enlarged view )

( Click the image to get enlarged view )

Thanking You,

Vishnu Sankar

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