CONVENTIONAL seedling propagation, which is time-consuming and labor intensive, will no longer be a hindrance for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to meet the seed demands of its reforestation and greening programs.
With its new modern mechanized forest nursery (MMFN), the DENR can now produce some one million seeds ready for dispersal in one year.
Unlike in the past when growing seeds was a slow and labor intensive process with poor production rate, the DENR can now grow seeds with the use of technology — from sowing to irrigation.
With the MMFN, each production cycle is assured of high production rate with fewer seed mortality.
And one million seeds in just a year certainly mean a positive boost to the government’s National Greening Program (NGP), reforestation efforts, and other similar programs as there are now more seeds to fill-in the demand.
Modern mechanized forest nursery
Constructed in 2015, the MMFN is the first of its kind in Central Luzon.
The facility is located in Barangay San Juan de Valdez, San Jose town in Tarlac province. The 1.26-hectare forest nursery is an area dedicated to the propagation of forest tree seedlings for the purpose of reforestation.
Built at the cost of P20 million and through the partnership with the provincial government of Tarlac, the facility aims to provide available seeds ready for dispersal to DENR’s greening and reforestation efforts, chiefly, the NGP.
In fact, the facility now produces more than 300,000 seedlings of acacia mangium, acacia auricauliformis, gmelina arborea, narra, kupang, agoho, banaba, alibangbang, malapapaya, and red lauan.
DENR Central Luzon information officer Don Guevarra said that the seedlings will be used to support the replanting activities of the more than 100,000 hectares of established plantation of the NGP.
The NGP was created under Executive Order No.26 of President Aquino in pursuit of sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It aims to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares for a period of six years (2011-2016) in lands of public domain. These lands include forests, mangroves and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, and urban areas.
The NGP implementation has been extended from 2016 to 2028, or some 12 years to recover the country’s forest cover, the second lowest in Southeast Asia.
The MMFN would greatly support NGP initiatives in Central Luzon as the DENR targets to replant some 5,759.06 hectares for 2019 from its original maintained area of 20,432.50 hectares.
For Zambales province alone, some 1,350 hectares have been targeted by the DENR with some 656 hectares set for replanting.
The needed seedlings for Zambales alone is already at 586, 322 seeds.
Technology and seed production
The MMFN facility in Tarlac is part of the 11 facilities for the whole country.
In 2017, six of the said facilities are already operational while five are still being constructed.
The MMFN is equipped with imported and modern technology facilities and employs the up-to-date methods of seeding, germination and propagation.
The Tarlac facility includes an administration building, a greenhouse with an irrigator boom, a hardening and growing building with automatic sprinkler/mist, and a seeder building.
Guevarra said that the MMFN uses seed machine technology, which means that several steps in the seed growing process is mechanized from the sowing of seeds in the potting medium to the irrigator boom and automatic sprinklers that irrigate the seeds.
Facility staffs prepare the soil for the seedlings with the use of organic materials, like fibers from coconut husks. A machine automatically plants the seeds on seed trays.
Data from the DENR said that the seeder machine has the capacity to plant hundreds of seedlings per hour.
These seedlings have higher survival rate and contain proper amount of soil media nutrients composed of coco peat, rice hull, carbonated soil and mycorrhiza fertilizer. And with the technology fully dedicated to the care of the plants, high survival of the seedlings is assured.