A how to guide for propagating improved tree planting material

nursery manualNursery operators and smallholder farmers are set to benefit from a new manual by the World Agroforestry Centre on producing quality tree planting material.

“Quality seedlings are fundamental to the performance of agricultural species,” says Moses Munjuga, research assistant at the World Agroforestry Centre and lead author of the manual.

“Every step in the process of producing seedlings needs to be properly planned and implemented to give plants the very best chance of surviving and growing to be productive.”

Nursery Management, Tree Propagation and Marketing: A Training Manual for Smallholder farmers and Nursery Operators has been developed to improve understanding about the principles and practices of propagation (both by seed and vegetatively) as well to provide advice on the establishment of small scale-nurseries and the marketing of planting materials.

The manual will be used in training programs and has been designed so that it can be adapted to the needs of participants through incorporating case studies based on local circumstances, cultural practices and social traditions.

Practical approaches are a major component of the manual, such as how to prepare suitable soil media, techniques for sowing and transplanting seedlings and cuttings, weed control, nutrient and pest management and how to evaluate the quality of seedlings.

“We hope the manual will build on the basic knowledge and skills of participants in nursery establishment and management so that they can embark on entrepreneurial activities,” explains Munjuga.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the establishment of small-scale community nurseries. Such nurseries can supply high quality seedlings as well as technical advice to farmers which helps them to increase their incomes.

There are five distinct modules in the manual:

  1. Seed sources and nursery management practices
    Sourcing and selecting seeds for seedling or rootstock propagation, preparation of seedbed and germination medium, techniques for enhancing seed germination and sowing of seeds in the germination bed, uprooting and transplanting of germinated seeds in the nurseries.
  2. Establishment and management of seedling nursery
    Site selection and land preparation, field layout and planting techniques, seedling management, weeding and control of seedling diseases.
  3. Production of vegetative planting materials
    Concepts and principles of vegetative propagation, including illustrations on the production of quality planting materials through various method of asexual propagation.
  4. Making compost in nursery
    Making compost from nursery waste and mixing of media.
  5. Nursery as a business

Download the full manual:

Munjuga M R,Gachuiri A N, Ofori D A, Mpanda M M, Muriuki J K,Jamnadass R H, Mowo J (2013). Nursery management, tree propagation and marketing: a training manual for smallholder farmers and nursery operators. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.


Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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