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Systems of Orchard Planting and Planting Designs

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Different designs can be followed for planting fruit trees in a given area. Such designs are explained in this booklet in a simple and lucid style.

Practically all the sections in this book require careful study. However , the reader should try to differentiate between the systems with care before he can lay out on the field. Calculation of the number of saplings of the selected fruit trees is made further clear through an exercise and a ready recknoner.

Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education

I. Introduction
Layout of an orchard is very important. Layout means fixing the position of trees, roads, buildings, etc. in an orchard being planned. There are various systems of layout in an orchard. Systems of layout refer to the design of planting the trees. It is desirable to have the trees planted in a systematic way because: (1) orchard operations like intercultural and irrigation are carried out easily; (2) it makes possible the distribution of areas equally for each tree; (3) it results in maximum utilization of an area according to different kinds of trees; and (4) it makes supervision more easy and effective.

II. Systems of Planting
There are five systems of planting of fruit trees. In all these systems, trees are planted in rows. The distance between row to row and plant to plant varies with the system, type of fruit trees and their varieties. Tress with bigger canopy require greater distance between them and vice versa.

A. Square system
In square system the trees are planted in four corners of a square keeping the same distance between row to row and plant to plant in the same row. This is the simplest and easiest system of plantation. (Appendix Fig.1).

1.Irrigation channels and paths can be made straight.
2.Operations like ploughing, harrowing, cultivation, spraying and harvesting becomes easy. 3.Better supervision of the orchard is possible as one gets a view of the orchard from one end to the other.

1.Comparatively less number of trees are accommodated in given area. 2.Distance between plant to plant and row to row remains the same and , hence, certain amount of space in the middle of four trees is wasted.

B. Rectangular system
In rectangular system the trees are planted in the same way as in a square system except that the distance between row to row will be more than the distance between plant to plant in the same row. Four adjacent trees in this system make a rectangular design. (Appendix Fig.2).

1.Intercultural operations can be carried out easily.
2.Irrigation channel can be made length and breadth wise
3.Light can penetrate into the orchard through the large inter spaces between rows.
4.Better supervision is possible.
5.Intercropping is possible.

1.A large area of the orchard between rows is wasted if intercropping is not practised.
2.Less number of trees are planted.

C. Quincunx or Diagonal system
Basically, quincunx or diagonal system is the same as the square system except for the addition of a tree in the center of each square. In this system, the number of trees planted in the same area is almost double. But the distance between the trees is much reduced. For this reason, trees with shorter life space are chosen for the center. By the time the main trees grow into full size, the central trees will have finished their life cycle. The central trees are known as filler crop and the others as main crop. If the filler crop hinders seriously the growth of main trees, it should be removed Papaya, Guava, Lime, plum and peaches are a few examples of filler crops in orchards with trees like mango jack and tamarind. (Appendix Fig.3).

1.Additonal income can be earned from the filler crop till the main crop comes into bearing. 2.Copared to square to square and rectangular systems, almost double the number of trees can be planted initially. 3.maximum utilization of the land is possible.

1.Skill is required to layout the orchard.
2.Inter/filler crop can interfere with the growth of the main crop.
3.Intercultural operations become difficult.
4.Spacing of the main crop0 is reduced if the filler crop is allowed to continue after the growth of the main crop.

D. Hexagonal system
In the hexagonal system, the trees are planted at the corners of an equilateral triangle. Six such triangles are joined together to form a hexagon. Six trees are positioned at the conrners of this hexagon with a seventh in the center all arranged in the three rows. However the distance between tree to tree in six directions from the central tree remains the same. (Appendix Fig.4).

1.Compared to square system 15% more trees can be planted.
2.It is an ideal system for the fertile and well irrigated land.
3.Plant to plant distance can be maintained the same.
4.More income can be obtained.

1.Intercultural operations become difficult.
2.Skill is required to layout the orchard.

E. Contour system
Contour is an imaginary line connecting all points of equal elevation across a slope. In a hilly area, a lot of depressions, ridges, furrows and place surface are found. But when plating is done a line is made by connecting all the points of same elevation across the slope from a base line. This spacing is maintained on this row. However row to row distance will not be the same since the degree of slope varies from spot to spot. Points of equal elevation at a distance equal to plant to plant spacing are market with the help of Dumpy level or other suitable instruments.

In this system contour lines themselves become the rows and are marked at the row to row distance. However it is not possible to maintain the row to row distance strictly all long the rows. Whenever distance between adjacent contour line is almost double another contour is fitted in that space. (Appendix Fig. 5).

1.this system can be adopted in hilly regions and in leveled land.
2.Contour system can control the soil erosion.
3.It helps simultaneously in the conservation of water.
4.Preservation of plant nutrients supplied by manures and fertilizers possible.
5.Contours from an easy path for movements on the hill slpes for carrying out various orchard operations such as weeding, manuering, pruning, harvesting, disease and pest control.

1.Laying out of contour lines is difficult and time consuming. 2.Special skill is required to layout this system.
3.Special instruments are required for making contour lines. 4.The row to row distance will not be equal and adjustments may be required in the plant to plat distance. 5.Rows are broken in to bits and pieces.

III. Laying out for Planting Trees
Laying out an orchard in any one of the system requires certain tools and practical skills.

A. Tools
Following are the main tools required to lay out an orchard: 1.rope or iron chain for identifying straight line between two points. 2.Measuring tape to measure the distance.
3.Ranging rod which is a straight bamboo with the end pointed so that it can be fixed in the field. 4.Right angle shaft consisting of two wooden rods fixed at right angle 990 degrees). 5.wooden pegs used for fixing the points at which trees are to be planted and Lime dust in order to mark the lines.

Before proceeding with the actual layout in the field the field should be properly prepared. A sketch on a paper will give much clarify about the design to be laid out.

B. Procedure for layout
In the layout procedures for different system, a few common steps can be identified. 1.Measure the land.
2.Decide the types of trees to be plated, planting distance and the system of plating. 3.Prepare a plan on the paper marking all details,
Preparing a plan on paper is tedious and time consuming but the actual layout becomes easier.

A base line (parallel to any side of the plot or a contour line) is market always at the beginning of the layout and it forms a row of trees. Subsequent rows are marked parallel to this base line except in contour system. The position of the trees in each row is marked using the wooden pegs leaving a space equal to half the plant to plant distance on either side (boundary). Otherwise, the roots and canopy of the trees may spread beyond the boundary. Depending on the length and width of the land plant to plant and row to row distance, boundary space may be reasonably adjusted. While preparing the blue print, all these factors are taken into consideration. Lay out procedures for different systems

The following are the basic procedures for laying out various systems of orchid.

1. Square system
a)Establish a base line/row.
b)Mark position of trees on this line using the wooden pegs leaving half of plat to plant distance 9actual or adjusted) on both sides of the base lines. c)Using right angle shaft, extend lines perpendicular to the base line from every position of the trees marked. d)Pegs are fixed on these lines at plant to plant distance

These are the basic procedures for laying out a square system. One can introduce a number of modifications in the procedure and in the tools to increase the efficiency.

2. Rectangular system
The procedure is the same as for the square system. The row to row distance is more than the plant to plant distance and the row to row distance forms the length of the rectangle.

3. quincunx or diagonal system
Follow the procedure for the layout of a square system. In addition to this mark with pegs the centers of each square for the filler plants by drawing the diagonals.

4. Hexagonal system
Establish a base line on one side of the field as in the square system. Mark the position of trees on the base line at he desired distance and fix the pegs. Make equilateral triangles on the base line maintaining the sides of the triangles equal to plant to plant distance. Mark the tops al all the triangles with pegs and join them into a line to form the second line of trees. Similarly, make equilateral triangles on the second line and cover the whole land.

5.Contour system
Contour system is a little more complicated than any other system of layout since planting has to be done on slopes. For the procedure mark contours at a distance equal to row to row distance on each contour lines. The contours may be of full length or less than full length depending on variations in the degree of slope.

IV. Calculation of Number of Trees

The layout on a paper (blue print) shows the distance between plant to plant, system of planting adopted total number of rows, length and width wise distance left in the boundaries, number of plants in rows and total number of plants in the orchard.

The total number of plants required per hectare under different systems of planting can be calculated by using a simple formula. However one should keep the following in mind.

1.The formula will only help in determinging the total plants (approximately) required for a particular area. 2. it will help the grower to determine the number of saplings he should order in advance from an outside nursery or to raise them in one’s own.

The formula therefore used is a general one as given below.

Total area of land
Number of plants =
Area required for one tree

Total area of the plot is calculated according to the standard procedures applied depending on the shape of the land. If the plot is irregular shaped one should get the help of a surveyer.

Area required for one plant = Row to row distance x plant to plant distance.

Applying this formula, one can estimate approximately the number of saplings required for plating under each system.

Square system is the basis of estimation. The number of plants for square system is calculated first. Doubling this number one can find out the number of plants required for quincunx system and the addition of 15% to the square can give the estimation of plants required for hexagonal system. For contour system, the same formula is used. Based on this estimate the grower can order saplings from the nursery. But if the plan is made on the paper before ordering the seedlings, one can get the actual number of plants required after marking the position of plants in the field. To this number 15% more should be added to fill the gaps at the end of the first year and second year.

V. Exercise on the Estimation of Number of Trees

Estimation of the number of trees is further made clear through an example.

Example: Determine the number of mango trees that can be planted under various systems on a plot of 120×90 metres. Guava trees are the selected as filler trees in quincunx system. The plant to plant distance for mango is 12 metres.

1.Square system:
Area of the plot = 120 x 90 = 10800 sq m
Area for one plant = 12 x 12 =144 sq m

Number of trees required = 10800/12 x 12 = 75

2. Rectangular system:
In rectangular system the row to row distance is more than plant to plant to plant distance. Let us fix it here as 15 metres. Applying the formula.

The number of plants required = 10800/15 x 12 =60

3.Quincunx system:
The number of main crop (Mango) = same number as in square system = 75 trees

Filler crop number (guava) = almost same as main crop in square system =75 trees

4.Hexagonal system:
For estimating number of trees under hexagonal system add 15% more to the number of trees estimated under the square system.

No of trees in square system = 75 trees

No of trees in the hexagonal system = 75 x 15/100 + 75 = 86 trees

5.Contour system
Area of plot = 120 x 90 = 10800

Area required for one plant = 12 x 12 = 144 sq m

No of trees required = 12 x 90 /12 x 12 = 75 roughly

6.Alternative method:
If the plot has equal lengths and widths another method of calculating the number of trees can be adopted. In this method, the number of rows are determined by dividing with by row to row distance. Similarly the number of plants in the same row is determined by dividing length by the plant to plant distance. The total number of trees can be obtained by multiplying the number of rows with the number of trees in the row.

Following the same method, number of trees are calculated for the same example as follows.

Width of the plot = 90 m
Length of the plot = 120 m
Row to row distance = 12 m
No of rows = 90/12 = 7 rows

While dividing one gets 7 full rows and 6 metres as balance which is exactly half of the row to row to distance. Under this circumstance either the spacing is reduced by 0.75 metre to get the row number exactly 8 or increased by 0.85 metre to have 7 rows. Similarly the number of trees per row is also calculated.

No of trees in the same row = 120/12 =10

Total number of trees = no of trees in a row x no of rows
= 7 x 10 or 8 x 10 = 70 or 80

One can also leave the balance distance on one side of the plot and use it for growing any other crop.

Any method of estimation is not really accurate, because inside the plot there may be some stony areas and space may be required for paths, channels, and buildings. Only after marking the position of trees using a peg, one can determine the exact number of saplings.

The following is a ready reckoner giving the number of trees under the three systems 9square, quincunx and hexagonal) in an area of one hectare when the plant to plant distance is same. Table 1 gives the approximate number of trees per heactare under various systems of plantations.

Table 1 Approximate number of trees per hectare under various systems of plantations.

|Sl No. |Distance |Square |Quincux system including |Hexagonal system | | |metre |system |filler crop | | |1 |2.5 |1600 |3200 |1840 | |2 |3.0 |1111 |2222 |1277 | |3 |4.0 |625 |1250 |718 | |4 |5.0 |400 |800 |460 | |5 |6.0 |277 |555 |318 | |6 |7.0 |204 |408 |234 | |7 |8.0 |156 |312 |179 | |8 |9.0 |123 |246 |141 | |9 |10.0 |100 |200 |115 | |10 |11.0 |82 |164 |94 | |11 |12.0 |69 |138 |79 |

In the case of rectangular system the number of trees varies according to the row to row distance. The approximate number of trees in contour system is almost the same as the number of trees in square system when the row to row and plant to plant distance is equal, whereas if the row to row distance is more than the plant to plant distance the number is equal to the rectangular system.

VI. Conclusion

Knowledge of various systems of orchard planting is very necessary for establishing an orchard scientifically. It will be helpful to estimate the required plants in advance or to raise them in his own nursery. Without this knowledge one cannot lay out on orchard and put the plot to maximum utilization.

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