Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ploughing to Plant Tropical Trees

Tractor in truck crossing river by ferry
One of the reasons why investing in tropical trees is low risk is because well managed plantations are in the business to make money themselves. They can't afford to be sloppy. A good example is how they prepare the ground for planting. Because tropical trees sink deep roots, the ground needs to be ploughed to a depth of 60 or 70 cm (2 feet). This loosens the soil so that the seedlings can set root quickly. In order to keep the soil soft so that each seedling has a good start, plantation crews add lime (cal in Spanish) to the freshly ploughed field. They also add boron (boro in Spanish), which provides the trees with an essential element that prevents leaf rust and some other potential problems.

Ploughing the ground before planting
Last but not least, fertilizer is added to the soil. The trees themselves fix nitrogen in the soil as they grow. 100 hectares of land or 250 acres require approximately 32 metric tons of lime, 6 to 8 metric tons of boron, and 12 to 16 metric tons of fertilizer. It takes 1 to 2 weeks to plough 100 hectares, depending on soil conditions and rock. Plough blades often go dull and need to be replaced. And then of course there is the constant maintenance required on the tractor, with oil, filter and fluid changes and lube every 50 and 100 hours, based on manufacturers specifications. The tractor Amazonia Reforestation uses is a 105 HP Kubota.

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