Q 1. So if cowpea is grown, can cut fodder be taken from the rubber farm to raise goats/ cattle? After all, raising goats and cattle can de-risk rubber cultivation (Since I remember cases of Kerala rubber farmers committing suicide in 2002-2003 due to low rubber prices).
mathew: you can some extend of green fodder from rubber plantation. only thing you have to cut the grass and feed RUbber planation is mono cultivation and risk of cultivation should be proportionate. if you have 10acere land never ever cultivate all 10acere with rubber. however chance for carshing rubber price to the level of Rs 30/kg is very very less. 1st of all rubber is in commodity market now and there are lots of hedging done, secondly demand for natural rubber increase every day. However the worst and most challange in rubber plantation in labour. Days are not too far number of planation become idal due to labour shortage just like people abandended tea gardens in east
I think I am now convinced of the economics which holds so long as the price of rubber stays at 150+ rs per kg. If like in 2003, it crashes to 30 rs per kg levels, a de-risking strategy might be useful.
I have to admit, I might be wrong about pepper vines on rubber – it’s all from memory - maybe it was betel vine or some other creeper or the rubber farm was not maintained. I did not look for the tapping cuts on those trees, though I think some rain guards and tapping marks were there on some of the other trees in the farm.
As regards rubber inter-cultivation in China, Laos, etc, I guess the lower tree density must be allowing the growth of tea in rubber estates there. However, if as Mathew says, the roots are fine and spread over top soil, then tea plucking activities can damage them. Q 2. I wonder how that is reconciled.
MATHEW : YES IN SOME PART OF KERALA SPECIALLY HILLY ARE TEA GARDEN HAS INTERCROPPED IN RUBBER. HOWEVER TEA IS NOT GROWN IN ALL PLACE OF RUBBER. I DO NOT HAVE ANY IDEA TO LINK TEA CULTIVATION TO YEILD OF RUBBER. Better if you could check with rubber board.
Q 3. Mathew, I am not sure, but I think rubber is a tap root tree. Hence how is there many roots on the top soil? Is it because of the practice of spreading manure between four trees that the rubber tree is forced to grow side-ways roots to reach the manure/fertilizer?
Mathew: Yes it is tap root tree. however there are many roots on the top soil and it is very necessary too. seen that damages to small roots spread on top soil reduce yeild of latex
Q 4. Can Biju/Mathew elaborate if you have seen or heard of double row planting in rubber? The robber board guidelines of 28 x 10 feet (8.75 m x 3 m) for inter-cultivation of cocoa seems to lend credence to the practice of wide single row planting, which in practice can be applied as double row planting too (Since in other agro-forestry guidelines, wide single row plantings can be made more resource-efficient with double row planting).
MATHEW : we have done one plot with new variety rubber deviating space suggested by rubber board. ie more density in acere. need to wait till more 3 years to understand whether it was good or not. however growth is restricteed.
Q 5. Can Biju/Mathew also tell us about mahogany border planting? I believe it is done with the intention to provide wind-break for rubber trees and also as a de-risking strategy.
mathew: do not have exact figures. however can do maximum in border. and ensure to do proper proning .
Q 6. So does rubber tree density reduce from the ideal 180-200 trees/acre because of mahogany trees planted on border with 10 feet interspacing?
mathew : no becuase that space/distance can be calculated from border too,. its basically depend on geography of yoru land
I would suggest, please viist model planation of rubber board and visit some farms . Rubber board is doing a great job in expanding plantation and they are very supportive in every aspects.