Hardy babul does well with crops

Field trials prove a deep-rooted tree indigenous to Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra grows well in the Thar desert.

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Stuned but sturdy, the babul i (Credit: Anil Agarwal /CSE)TRIALS conducted in Pali, Rajasthan, indicate, that the ramkathi babul (Acacia nilolica, variety cupressiformis), indigenous to Andhra Pradesh arid Maharashtra, is an appropriate agroforestry species in and areas, according to a report in Indian Farming. (Vol 4 1 No. 11)

The tree rp-sprouts when cut provides nutritious fodder and tough timber. As it has few branches and a small crown, the tree permits light to penetrate to the ground, making it possible for other crops below to grow. Ramkathi babul also fixes soil nitrogen arid its dead leaves enhance soil fertility. Farmers in Pali district plant as many as 40 trees in a hectare of field crops.

It is a deep-rooted tree and does not affect shatlow-rooted crops. However, agronomist Neelam Kumar Chopra at the Regional Research Station, Pali, discovered that in the early years of its growth the crops grown below ramkathi babul affect it's growth. Sorghum, she found, had a larger negative effect on tree growth than mungbeans and cluster-beans. Once the. tree is three vears old, tall growing cereals can be planted with it as they cease to affect the tree's development.

The seeds of this tough tree have to be treated with sulphuric acid or soaked in water to soften the hard seed coal and to hasten germination. Tree pods are sometimes fed to goats arid sheep andthe seeds, with softened seed-coats, are collected from their droppings. Even when irrigated with saline water, 98 per cent of these hardy seedlings survive.

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