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Coconut and Gmelina Cropping System

By Pinoy Farmer | August 7, 2009
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The coconut – based agroforestry system involving coconut + gmelina (Gmelina arborea Roxb.) interplanting under leaf pruned coconut is a scheme to save the coconut industry from being a sunset industry by providing a practical substitute to the cutting of coconut trees.

Gmelina arborea is a fast growing forest tree planted to produce wood for light construction, crafts, decorated veneers, pulp, fuel/charcoal, furnitures etc.

Coconut leaf pruning (CLP) involves the removal or pruning of coconut leaves to allow adequate sunlight for normal development and high yield of perennial and annual coconut intercrops.

Procedure

1. The existing bearing coconut are pruned from leaf 23 (with the oldest harvestable bunch and below, maintaining 22 living leaf fronds every nut harvest.

Fig. 1. Coconut leaf pruning (CLP) from leaf # 23 (1a) in contrast to no CLP (1b)

2. Plant two (2) rows of gmelina seedlings at 3 x 3 m in between two rows of coconut trees. Fertilize gmelina plants with 14-14-14 following these rates:

Age of plants Rate of 14-14-14/tree (g)
3 mos from planting 5

3. Pruned the lateral branches of 1-3 years  old gmelina trees below 3 m height to  promote straight and bigger trunks.

4. Harvest 25% of the total gmelina planting  at the 3rd year for banana props, fuel;  another 25% on the 6th year and the  remaining 50% on the 10th year for lumber  (wood) and fuel purposes.

Advantages of the Technology

  1. Improved vegetative (more pruned branches and bigger trunks) and yield (lumber) could be produced from gmelina planted under leaf pruned bearing tall coconuts.
  2. Gmelina provides for other beneficial uses such as fodder (leaves) for animals, silkworms; as folk medicine (root and bark decoction) good for abdominal tumor, blood disorder, diabetes, fever, etc. and its flowers produced good quality honey.
  3. Leaf fronds pruned from coconuts can be used as raw materials in handicraft cottage industry products such as baskets, seat cover, brooms and as fuel/charcoal.
  4. Increased net farm income from gmelina products (as lumber, construction materials, carvings, furnitures) and its by-products (branches as fuel).
  5. Intercropping gmelina under tall bearing coconuts prevents the cutting of coconut trees for lumber/timber purposes.

Myth and Truths uncovered about  gmelina planting under coconut

  1. On water – depleting capacity – Gmelina  thru thick litter it forms at its base, increases  the water –absorbing and water-holding  capacity of the soil. There was no difference  in soil moisture content on areas near gmelina and near coconut trees.
  2. On soil acidity – Soil pH at plots with and  without gmelina showed statistically the  same level of pH indicating that gmelina does  not cause acidity of the soil.
  3. On allelophatic effect – no harmful or  inhibiting effect on the growth of another  plant, i.e. coconut was observed.
  4. On depletion of organic matter – There  was an increase in organic matter content in  plots planted to gmelina possibly due to the  accumulation of shedded leaves of gmelina  on the soil, thus adding to the organic matter content of the soil.

Source: pca.da.gov.ph, bpi.da.gov.ph

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