Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam, a constituent college of TNAU is involved in research on tree improvement, Tree Management, Protection and value addition and has significantly contributed for the agroforestry development in the state. The salient achievements made so far are as follows.
1. Variety Development
a) Simarouba - Paradise tree
A variety in Simarouba glauca has been developed and popularized as a source of oil yielding tree with an oil content of 55 to 65 per cent.
b) Casuarina clones
This institute has developed
superior clones in Casuarina
c) Eucalyptus clones
The institute has developed superior clones in Eucalyptus (FCRI EC 48, FCRI 103, FCRI 53, FCRI 56 and NGL 2) as a source of higher productivity, superior pulp wood quality and also as a clone suitable for bio drainage purpose. These clones are promoted and demonstrated and are at varied stages of adoption.
d) Development of alternate pulp wood
Two species have been identified viz., Melia dubia and Dalbergia sissoo as an alternate source of pulp wood with a potential of 50% cellulose and around 20% kappa number coupled with acceptable fibre strength properties. The two species have been transferred to paper industries for further mass multiplication and promotion. Clones of nearly 20,000 numbers have been multiplied and promoted.
e) Jatropha hybrids
Biofuel research formed major activity of the research agenda of this institute. Accordingly the institute has developed 27 hybrid derivates with varying degree of variability in terms of seed and oil yield and associated morphological characters. From these hybrid derivates two distinct hybrids viz., FCRI HC 21 and FCRI HC 32 have been certified as new developed varieties by NBPGR and assigned the new variety number of INGR 09037 and INGR 09036 respectively.
2. Management Technology
a) Clonal multiplication technology
Clonal forestry in tree breeding programmes has been emerging as a strong attraction to the traditional seed orchard breeding system. There has been growing interest in using the techniques of clonal forestry and thereby, exploiting the considerable amount of genetic variability already existing in the natural populations of forest tree species that have been amenable to vegetative propagation and partly because of tremendous yield improvement by adopting the clonal forestry approaches. Hence, FCRI has prioritized developing clonal technologies for fast growing industrial wood species to augment the productivity and to reduce the rotation. Accordingly the technology has been developed for timber, industrial wood and biofuel species.
b) Precision Silviculture Technology
The precision silviculture technology for pulp and match wood species have been standardized and implemented in association with wood based industries which resulted in higher productivity of over 25 m3 per ha/ annum
c) Multifunctional Agroforestry
Agroforestry research has been triggered to develop land management systems that integrate agricultural crops with forest trees. Three agroforestry systems viz., Agrisilviculture, silvipastoral and agrisilvi-pastoral systems have been developed through all India coordinated research project. Various tree species like Jatropha, Pungam, Simarouba, Teak, Ailanthus, Silver oak, Casuarina and Eucalyptus based agroforestry systems were developed with judicial mixture of compatible intercrops like cowpea, blackgram and forage crops like Cenchrus sp. and medicinal plants like thulasi and recommended for various agro-climatic zones of Tamil Nadu for adoption.
d) Development of Microbial Consortia for productivity improvement
Site and species specific Microbial inoculants were evolved for bamboo jatropha, simarouba, eucalyptus, casuarina, melia, acacias and shola trees and mass multiplied and applied for respective plantations. The techniques for bio-composting of forest based residues viz., leaf litters, fruit shell, oilcakes, vegetable wastes, coffee pulp and tea cultivation were standardized and transferred to various stakeholders for adoption. Microbial diversity of various forest ecosystems were assessed for developing some promising cultures of both agricultural and industrial importance. Production and utilization of VAM and vermicompost is popularized among farm women, SHG’S and other target groups.
e) Value Addition through Briquetting Technology
The Casuarina clonal plantation needs to be pruned twice the year and during the three year of plantation activities it is expected that 1-2 tonnes of plantation residues in the form of needles are to be available which are currently either unutilized or underutilized. The plantation residues have been successfully value added into briquettes. The economic analysis of plantation residue based briquetting technology has indicated the economic superiority of the system compared to the existing saw dust based technology.
f) Consortium Mode Research and Development.
The Institute has established a strong industrial wood consortium with pulp and paper, match and biomass power generation industry and during XI Five Year Plan an area of over 25000 ha has been brought under farmers linked industrial wood plantation through contract farming system.