Production Technologies

(i) Precision Silvicultural Technology

The concept of precision silviculture is being introduced first time by Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam, the technique involves canopy, stem and root engineering system so as to get the maximum yield with optimal input of inputs both for short rotation and long rotation tree species. Utilising this system commercial tree farming model is devised for fast growing tree species that enables to get maximum economic returns per unit area by the farmers.

Sl.No Type of Management Nature of Management Adoption rate
1 Canopy engineering Maintaining optimum canopy density regulated through pruning, spacing and thinning More than 90 per cent adaptation rate by the farmers is visualized in the filed
2 Stem engineering Enhancing internodal length and promoting intercalary meristem development for obtaining highest diameter increment More than 60 per cent adaptation rate by the farmers in the filed
3 Root engineering Promoting feeder roots spread and density though manipulating water regime and interval of irrigation using drip irrigation system More than 80 per cent adaptation and yield regulation is achieved by the farmers

 (ii) Optimal Tree Density

Tree density is the one of the critical factors in yield gap assessment. Traditionally casuarinas are grown at a higher density levels of 8000 – 10000 plants/ ha which resulted in the yield realization of less than 80 tonnes / ha after 4-5 years. To resolve this issue, an optimal tree density of 4400 – 5000 plants / ha has been standardized using clone based industrial agroforestry model. Through this density, the Casuarina MTP 2 variety has recorded an average yield of 150 tonnes / ha and a maximum yield of 220 tonnes / ha in a short span of 3 years.

(iii) Irrigation and Fertigation Technology

Precision tree farming techniques are developed using drip irrigation system for fast growing indigenous tree species. The techniques are standardized in a way that a maximum of 40 – 50 tons of wood per acre can be harvested with the rotation of 1.5 to 2 years. Accordingly, this high productive system was standardized for species namely, Neolamarkia cadamba, Melia dubia, Ailanthus excelsa, Dalbergia sissoo. The techniques are standardized in a way that a maximum of 40 – 50 tons of wood per acre can be harvested with the rotation of 1.5 to 2 years. Maximum yield in trees with shortest rotation were realized by the farmers and now this technology is popular among farmers as a commercial tree farming model. This technology is adopted for an area of over 2000 acres by farmers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh. Awareness creation through training and field demonstration were given to farmers, line department officials, NGOs, FPOs, students and other stakeholders. Already over 5000 people were benefited to the programme. Besides, advisory through mass and print media, mobile services and e-services is being implemented for the wider dissemination of information regarding the fertigation technology.

(iv) Low cost Bamboo mass multiplication technology

Bamboo mass multiplication technique was developed by this institute and was released as technology by the Government of Tamil Nadu during 2007. This technique involves high quality vigorous planting material using entire culm rooting. The significance of the technology is very simple and can be easily adopted by the farmers and it can achieve 100 per cent rooting in bamboo without any rooting hormone. This technology is widely adopted in bamboo growing states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharastra, Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and North eastern states.

(v) Mini clonal technology for trees

A mini clonal technology has been developed for Casuarina and Melia which is one of the pioneering attempts in the country for these species. Under this technology, the superior clonal plants were planted in a mini clonal garden and are provided with regular irrigation and fertilization in order to enhance shoot multiplication. In this method, the mother plants are planted at 10 cm x 10 cm spacing and 30 – 45 days old plants are ready for collection of cuttings. The newly induced shoots were separated from the plants and with 1500 ppm IBA (liquid formulation) or without hormonal treatment and planted in 90 cc root trainers filled with decomposed coir pith. The rooting started in 15 days and 25 days old rooted plants are ready for hardening. Under this method, rooting efficiency and the uniformity has been increased significantly which resulted in uniform establishment, growth and development. The mini clonal garden can be maintained upto 5 years with an average production of 0.1 million plants per annum using 200 m2 area. This technology has been amplified in a decentralized approach across the state of Tamil Nadu which ensured production of over 10 million quality plants annually and satisfied the demands of farmers.

(vi) Seed Ball and Cube Technology

A detailed research on making productive seed balls was carried out in vagai, karuvel poovarasu and pungam species. Physiological changes at cell level by dormancy breaking treatment and seed priming , the seed vigour increases substantially and enables the seeds to perform well under wide range of environmental conditions. A media was developed to optimum bulk density, porosity and nutrient availability, which are very important for higher germination of seeds. The shape is also altered to cuboid shape instead of seed ball, since it is more supportive to facilitate seed germination and root anchorage. Seed cubes could record 80 percent germination, irrespective of the tree species. Besides high seed germination percent, high speed of germination, seedling vigour and root growth have also been obtained.  Seed cube technology holds immense potential to increase the success of direct seeding technology compared to the conventional seed ball technique.

Processing and Value Addition Technologies

(i)  Briquetting Technology

The Casuarina clonal plantation needs to be pruned twice the year and during the three year of plantation activities it is expected that 1-2 tonnes of plantation residues in the form of needles are to be available which are currently either unutilized or underutilized. The plantation residues have been successfully value added into briquettes. The economic analysis of plantation residue based briquetting technology has indicated the economic superiority of the system compared to the existing saw dust based technology.

(ii) Tamarind seed processing and seed gum products

Tamarind seed and pod processing equipments were established for post-harvest handling of tamarind seeds for exploiting gum utility. The tamarind processing unit is housed with dehuller, roaster, decorticator and pulversier. Techniques were standardised for extraction of tamarind gum from seed powder. Utilising the gumming property of the seed powder, edible product were developed by replacing commercial pectin. Market acceptable fruit jellies were developed using tamarind seed gum

(iii) Intensive Silviculture for Gum Yielding Trees

Pioneer work on tree based gum is in progress in collaboration with ICAR- Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums, Ranchi. Intensive silvicultural practices for high density Tamarind using high yielding varieties are standardised for exploiting tamarind seed gum. Besides, techniques for gum extraction and product development from tamarind seed are also standardised. Besides tree gum garden is established with trees that are potential for exploiting exudates gum.

(iv) ) Herbal Handwash from Sapindus emarginatus.

Sapindus emarginatus belongs to the family Sapindaceae and genus Sapindus is a medium-sized deciduous tree found in South India. Sapindus emarginatus consists of various compounds viz., flavonoids, triterpenoids, glycosides, carbohydrates, fatty acids, phenols, fixed oil, and saponin. Due to the presence of saponins, soapnut is well known for its detergent and insecticidal properties. Hence, hand wash using soapnut pulp extracts with potential antibacterial and antifungal properties has been formulated. In future, skin allergic test has to be carried out to market the product.

(v) Value added product from Syzygium cumuni fruit pulp

Syzygium cumunii (Naval) fruit is one of the Non-Timber Forest Products from the forest  known for its edible value. The fruits are highly perishable in nature. Syzygium cumuni is a fast-growing, attractive, compact, evergreen tree with a dense, frondose crown belongs to the Myrtaceae family. Both the seeds and the fruits are diuretic and have important carminative and astringent properties. The seeds also reduce blood sugar levels and are useful in the treatment of diabetes. The ripe fruit is astringent and is used as an effective treatment for diabetes. They cannot be stored for more than 3 to 4 days under room temperature.

(vi) Cassia fistula seed gum as hydrocolloid

The  study was conducted on extraction of seed gum from Cassia fistula seed powder.It was found that the seed gum is soluble in hot and cold water. The pH of Cassia fistula seed gum is 6.94, viscosity is 108 cP (1%) and swelling index is 2.21 which shows the suitability of seed gum as thickening agent.The rheological properties (Flow properties) of seed gum showed the  viscoelastic behaviour which indicate its  suitability as hydrocolloid. Further, the toxicity analysis will be done to confirm the utility of Cassia fistula seed gum as hydroclolloid in food industries.

(vii) Microbial Consortia

Site and species specific Microbial inoculants were evolved  for Bamboo  Jatropha,  Simarouba, Eucalyptus, Casuarina  Melia, Acacias and Shola trees and mass multiplied and applied for respective plantations. The techniques for Biocomposting of forest based residues viz., leaf litters, fruit shell, oilcakes, vegetable wastes, coffee pulp and tea cultivation were standardized and transferred to various stakeholders for adoption. Microbial diversity of various forest ecosystems were assessed for developing some promising cultures of both agricultural and industrial importance. Production and utilization of VAM and vermicompost is popularized among farm women, SHG’S and other target groups.

(vii) Inventory and promotion of high Azadirachtin Neem

Neem genetic resources were characterized and 20 clones with high Azadirachtin content (>8%) were screened and incorporated in the neem based agro and farm forestry development programme in association with EID parry group of companies.

(viii) Pollution Abatement – Tree Species

The Institute focuses on Trees and Pollution Abatement for the past five years to develop bio floating techniques for water pollution control and screening of tree species for urban air pollution abatement. To achieve the goal of this theme area, nearly 25 tree species have been tested and the tree species namely Terminalia arjuna, Millingtonia hortensis, Hibiscus tiliaceus and Melia dubia are screened for water pollution control. Also a mobile van based Air quality monitoring facility worth of 80 lakhs have been created and being utilized for monitoring real time ambient air quality. Based on the air quality data obtained, trees suitable for specific air pollutant will be screened and a good action plan will be developed for air pollution abatement in urban areas as the levels of pollution in the ambient air due to traffic is increasing at an alarming rate.

Preservation and Conservation Technologies

(i) Ex situ conservation of Forest Genetic Resources

As a part of conservation measures and academic interest, 76 indigenous tree species from 30 families were collected and assembled in the form of arboretum. This arboretum will be a source of information and knowledge for the students of the campus and the public besides ensuring the ex situ conservation of the assembled species.

(ii) Genetic Resources – Prioritizing the species

The Institute has prioritized varieties development as its major objectives and hence prioritized wide range of species for improvement program.

(iii) Conservation Silviculture

Conservation Silviculture aims in promoting the cultivation of rare, endangered and threatened tree species in farmlands. Two high value timber species Viz., Santalum album and Pterocarpus santalinus are placed in the endangered category list of IUCN. Conservation silviculture aims in promotion and cultivation of High value tree species in farmlands. Precision silviculture interventions like Quality seedling planting, drip irrigation, canopy management and root management practices will eventually improve the growth and development of these two tree species in farmlands. Precision silviculture techniques have been developed for cultivation of Sandal and Red sanders. In sandal, suitable host species was identified and irrigation schedule has been standardized.

(iv) Plantation Silviculture for Climate resilience

Climate resilience tree farming techniques were evolved for dryland and irrigated plantations through the research funding from Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Species consideration and eco-physiological  behaviour of trees were consider as a base line for evolving successful climate resilience tree farming models for drylands. Successful dryland tree farming model was developed at Nattarasankottai Village, Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu.

(v) Assemblage of tamarind germplasm

Tamarind germplasm having high seed gum utility value were assembled by assessing different populations as part of National project on Harvesting, processing and value addition of Natural Resins and Gums. About 10 plus trees were assembled and multiplication trials were in progress to identify elite genetic material for production of quality seed gum.

(vi)Superior progenies for higher Bixin

Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam has developed dye extraction from the genetic resources of Bixa characterized for higher bixin content. Based on the bixin content nine superior genetic resources were screened for adoption and promotional activities.