A clonal nursery is a place where plants are grown and reproduced asexually, using specific parts of a parent plant to generate new, genetically identical plants, known as clones. The main function of a clonal nursery in the agricultural and forestry industry is to produce plants with specific genetic characteristics and qualities in a consistent and uniform manner. This is essential to ensure quality and efficiency in crop production, as clonal plants maintain the same desirable characteristics as the parent plant.
Our clonal nursery, located in Fundo Marianita, Campo Verde district, is an important part of the current reforestation project in the area, where degraded areas are being restored according to a series of reforestation activities that occupy several hectares. This nursery aims to produce up to 1 million plants of high genetic quality per year and to increase the productivity of its plantations by 30% per year.Within the estate there are several camps built to meet this objective, of which we would like to highlight BAM’s Forest Genetic Improvement Program, where our clonal nursery is located. It is worth mentioning that the program is developed in alliance with the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC).
Types of plants propagated in BAM’s clonal nursery
There are four species of plants that reproduce in the nursery: capirona, bolaina, shihuahuaco and marupa. The last two plants are the main crops of the clonal nursery, as they are reproduced more frequently to contribute to the restoration project.
It is a native tree that can reach heights of up to 40 meters in its natural habitat. It comes from the tropical rainforests of South America. It has both cultural and ecological importance, with traditional uses, pharmacological potential and value in the timber industry, as its wood is prized for its strength and durability. The conservation of this species is essential to ensure its survival and the diversity of the ecosystem in which it lives.
It is a medium to large tree that can reach heights of up to 20 meters. It has long been used by various indigenous and local communities in the Americas. Its wood is prized for its quality and has been used in the construction of housing, furniture and handicrafts. However, like many other species, it faces threats due to deforestation and habitat loss. The promotion of sustainable forest management practices and the conservation of natural habitats are crucial to ensure the survival of this species.
They are large and tall trees that can reach more than 40 meters in their natural habitat. They have compound leaves with elongated and shiny leaflets, and produce small flowers that are generally white or cream colored. The different species of Shihuahuaco are found in various regions of Latin America, including countries such as Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela. These trees are an integral part of forest ecosystems and contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem health. It is crucial to mention that the Shihuahuaco is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In addition, its wood is valued for its durability and quality, as well as its bark and medicinal seeds.
It is a medium to large tree that can reach heights of up to 20 meters. Similar to other plant species, the marupa has been exploited by various local communities in Latin America for its timber and medicinal properties. In addition to its traditional uses, the Marupa has attracted interest due to its potential for biofuel production. The oil extracted from the seeds can be used as fuel and in the manufacture of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Given its cultural, economic and potential value, conservation of the Marupa and its habitat is important. Indiscriminate logging and forest loss pose threats to the species.
Restoration, conservation and sustainable management of all these species is essential to ensure their survival, contribute to biodiversity and support local communities.
General production and selection process
The clonal nursery has four modules:
- Clonal garden: In this module are the beds of the mother plants, where the plants are prepared by making an induction and specific cuts to put them in trays and go to the next stage of cloning. The process includes what is called drip irrigation, which is applied to all mother plants in preparation for rooting.
- Rooting: This is the module where plants are stimulated to form roots. For this purpose, a series of root inducers are applied to the shoots with very specific environmental conditions, such as high temperatures that reach approximately 38 degrees Celsius. This temperature allows for the stimulation of the cuttings. The process includes what is called mist irrigation, which is applied to all plants in preparation for acclimatization.
- Acclimatization: The plant moves to this third module when it roots and forms new leaves. Here the environment has what is called sprinkler irrigation. In addition, the passage of light is more visible and the walls surrounding the area are made of anti-aphid mesh, which allows the controlled passage of wind, protects the crops from abundant rain, and blocks the entry of insects or microorganisms into the nursery.
- Rustification: This last module has an environment totally exposed to the sun, without any possibility of shade. This means that the working area is free, without any protection. In this case, the sprinkler irrigation technique is again applied to the plants, but with more coarse drops. This is the last process that occurs before the plants are ready to be shipped to the field.
Technologies used to ensure uniformity and quality
Some of the technologies that we believe are important to highlight are:
- Technified irrigation: It is a modern and efficient approach to irrigation that uses advanced technologies to optimize water application on agricultural crops. Through more precise and controlled irrigation systems and methods, technified irrigation seeks to maximize water use and improve crop production, while reducing waste and environmental impact.
- Thermohygrometer: A thermohygrometer is an instrument used to measure the temperature of objects or substances by detecting the radiant heat they emit. Unlike conventional thermometers that measure the temperature of air or a liquid in direct contact, the thermohygrometer measures temperature at a distance, without the need for physical contact. In the case of the nursery, this instrument is used inside the rooting area to measure temperature and relative humidity.
- Pump room: A space specifically designed to house equipment used for the supply, distribution and handling of fluids, such as water, chemical liquids or gases. In this case, the room is used as a water supply system to treat the plants and ensure irrigation in the four modules mentioned above.
- Two tube wells: Tube wells are essential structures for accessing and tapping groundwater for various applications. Their design, depth and pumping equipment vary according to the specific needs and hydrogeological conditions of each site. In the case of the clonal nursery, they ensure water supply in areas where access to quality water resources is essential.
Meet Rosario, in charge of the clonal nursery
From Bosques Amazónicos, we spoke daily with Rosario to update us on the status of the clonal nursery and the progress of the forest genetic improvement program. She is in charge of the overall production process within the nursery, from the selection of the mother plant to the delivery of the plants to the field.
Rosario, from the camp facilities, mentions by phone that:
“By working with the clonal nursery, we would not be waiting for seed trees to produce seeds, which streamlines and accelerates the reforestation process. The nursery has a constant production and genetic load with the best cloned species, which have been called PLUS trees, because within their species they are the best with a specific set of characteristics,” emphasizes Rosario. “Thus, we ensure that their production has the same genetic characteristics.”
In summary, clonal nurseries play an essential role in providing foresters, gardeners and agroforestry industry professionals with access to high quality and genetically uniform plants, which contributes to increased productivity and efficiency in food production, as well as to the maintenance, diversification and reforestation of plant species.
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