Pure soil the best medium to germinate Jabon seeds in

Pure soil is the best medium to germinate jabon seeds in. This is according to a study by Irawan and Purwanto, published recently in Agricultural Science. The same study also concluded that the best medium for jabon seedling growth (height, diameter, and total dry weight) post-germination is a mixed medium of three parts of soil, one part of cow-manure compost, and one part of husk charcoal. Native to South and Southeast Asia, white jabon and red jabon are ideal choices for plantation and community forestry. However, a lack of propagation technology appropriate for rural communities limits the domestication of the species. This study aims to address that gap by identifying best practice for seed germination and seedling growth under rural conditions.

Performance of white jabon seedlings three months after transplanting

Performance of white jabon seedlings three months after transplanting

Smallholder tree farming systems contribute significantly to livelihoods and land rehabilitation efforts, and their importance as sources of forest and tree products will only increase as global forest resources continue to shrink and human populations expand. The successful establishment of these systems is, however, partially dependent on the availability of good quality germplasm (seed and seedlings) and adequate propagation techniques and skills.

Although previously planted in commercial plantations, jabon were not priority species for farmers or communities in the early tree domestication diagnostic work of Southeast Asia. However, they are now favoured by local communities for their adaptability, fast growth and profitability. White jabon (Anthocephalus cadamba) is a native forest species of South and Southeast Asia from India across to China and south to Australia. The native range of red jabon (Anthocephalus macrophyllus) is restricted to Sulawesi and the Moluccas islands. The two species may be considered synonymous but differences in appearances and growth are recognized by both foresters and farmers.

Red jabon and white jabon are ideal for timber plantations and community forestry investments because of their fast growth, adaptability to many sites, economic profitability, and utilization variability. They have straight cylindrical boles and small self-pruning branches, reducing the need for tree management. Jabon species have become popular with some communities, but a lack of propagation and cultivation information has limited farmers’ success in seedling production. This study was implemented to identify the best soil media for seed germination and seedling growth of red and white jabon, with an emphasis on soil media that could be made from farm waste material commonly available around rural communities. The study was conducted in a greenhouse in Bogor, Indonesia, over a period of four months in 2013.

Five germination and nine seedling growth media treatments were tested to identify composition of soil media that promoted good germination and seedling growth; and could be readily produced under rural conditions.

  • Five germination media treatments were tested: (i) soil (100%); (ii) mixed soil and sand (1:1); (iii) mixed soil, husk charcoal, and compost (1:1:1); (iv) sand (100%); and (v) mixed soil and husk charcoal (1:1). The parameter measured was number of seeds germinating one month after sowing.
  • Nine growth media treatments were tested: (i) soil 100%; (ii) mixed soil and husk charcoal (2:1); (iii) mixed soil, cow-manure compost, husk charcoal (3:1:1); (iv) mixed soil, compost of straw-mushroom growth medium waste (2:1); (v) mixed soil, compost of oyster-mushroom growth medium waste (2:1); (vi) mixed soil, vermi compost (2:1); (vii) mixed soil, compost of straw-mushroom growth medium, husk charcoal (3:1:1); (viii) mixed soil, cow-manure compost (3:1); and (ix) mixed soil, plant compost (2:1). The parameters measured were: (i) height growth; (ii) diameter growth; and (iii) total dry weight (TDW).

The study found that:

  • The best medium for germinating jabon seed is pure soil, followed by the mixed soil-sand medium.
  • The best medium for growing jabon seedlings was the mixed soil, cow-manure compost and husk charcoal medium (3:1:1).
  • The results for growth of white jabon seedlings were similar to those for red jabon seedlings.

The superior germination rate promoted by the pure soil and the soil-sand media demonstrates that soil supplements are not necessary to enhance seed germination. Thus farmers need not use their limited time, effort and resources to produce special germination media. The use of these readily available media will enhance local propagation efforts with jabon and can be used with other species too.  Similarly the soil, cow-manure compost, and husk charcoal medium, which was the best composition for jabon seedling growth is commonly available to rural communities.

These results are relevant to conditions across Indonesia and other tropical countries where tree planting systems hold potential to enhance rural livelihoods and contribute to land rehabilitation. The next step in improving the domestication of jabon species is to make the best quality seed available to farmers through selection of jabon mother trees, determination/establishment of village seed source, and testing various post-planting seedling management options under farmers’ conditions.

Read the full paper here.

Irawan US and Purwanto E. 2014. White Jabon (Anthocephalus cadamba) and Red Jabon (Anthocephalus macrophyllus) for Community Land Rehabilitation: Improving Local Propagation Efforts. Agricultural Science. 2. (3)P. 36-45.

The authors work for Operasi Wallacea Terpadu (OWT), an Indonesian NGO, which is a partner of the World Agroforestry Centre. The research was supported through the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: linking knowledge to action (AgFor Sulawesi) project, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), Government of Canada (Contribution Arrangement no. 7056890).

Management and conservation of forest and tree resources, which involves research into threats to important tree species, conserving high-value tree species, and improving silviculture practices is a key focus of the CGIAR’s Collaborative Research Project 6 on Trees, Forests and Agroforestry—of which the World Agroforestry Centre is a key partner.


Rebecca Selvarajah

Rebecca is a science writer, manager of publishing projects, trainer in science writing, and novelist — working partly from Nairobi, Kenya and partly from Morwell, Australia. With over 15 years of experience in writing, advertising/marketing, publishing and social media, she takes on varied assignments, travelling, if needed, to conduct relevant research and interviews. Originally from Sri Lanka, Rebecca holds a BA honours in Psychology, with minors in Gender Studies and Sociology. Email Rebecca on r.selvarajah@cgiar.org

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