Understanding the physiology of the root system and how to improve the root system of an adult plant. Most plants have 2 kinds of roots, the central thick vertically descending anchoring root with its branches, and the horizontally spreading thinner feeder roots. The main function of the anchoring root system is to support the plant. It descends up to 150 feet and more in some cases. If it is destroyed, the plant can still survive provided it is given external support. The main function of the feeder roots is to absorb water and nutrients. As the nutrient content of the topsoil is higher, they are found only down to 9 inches from the ground level. In the healthy plant they extend horizontally approximately up to the extent of the canopy. By the very shape of most plants, when it rains the canopy acts as a shade and the maximum water is delivered at the edge of the canopy. It is essential that the feeder roots extend to this width in order to gain the maximum surface area. The greater the surface area covered by the feeder roots, the greater will be the area of the canopy, resulting in maximum productivity. So it is essential to build a good feeder root system. How to make the roots system healthy: 1. Plant the plants on the nursery soil at the height of 6 inches above the ground level irrespective of the structure of the soil. In this way the feeder roots are always in contact with the nursery soil and are further activated by Amrutpani. 2. Supply water and nutrients at the outer circumference of the canopy. 3. Apply 4 liters of nursery soil per square foot of canopy at the outer limit of the heap before the canopy grows beyond the heap. (The heap should always be mulched.) Common mistakes made: 1. Water and nutrients are provided near the stem. This delays the development of the feeder roots and they will not increase their surface area coverage, leading to an under-developed canopy. 2. Heavy mulching, fertilizers, or raw manure is provided very close to or touching the stem. This results in permanent moisture and higher temperature (due to decomposition) around the stem, leading to rotting of the outer skin of the stem and weakening the stem. Particularly in the case of papayas, which have a delicate skin, this results in the tree prematurely toppling. 3. The land surrounding the plant is ploughed which disturbs the feeder root zone, resulting in a shock, which stops the fruiting. 4. Too much stagnant water in the vicinity of the stem. The feeder roots are growing every second. If they are exposed to too much water the growth stops due to lack of aeration. It takes 52 hours to become reactive. How to improve the root system in an adult tree: We can help a tree that has not been raised on nursery soil, and where the canopy and production is low, to regain vitality through the following procedure: 1. Keep sufficient nursery soil, Amrutpani, and ash ready. 2. Embrace the tree and let it know that you are about to disturb it for its benefit. 3. Draw the outer circumference of the canopy on the ground. Divide this circle into 4 equal parts. Take one part and start digging from the circumference towards the stem to a depth of one foot and width of 6 inches, until you encounter the thin white or brown feeder roots. Dig further for 6 inches to one foot to find the active zone (where the root system is more dense). Stop and make a channel of one foot wide and nine inches deep along the whole quarter of the circle in this zone. 4. Cut all the feeder roots at the point ½ inch away from the intact soil without disturbing the anchoring roots. (Anchoring roots are much thicker.) 5. Apply Amrutpani to the cut ends of the feeder roots to stimulate the growth. Apply ash at the ends as an antiseptic to prevent any attack of insects or virus. 6. Fill the channel with nursery soil and press properly, so that the roots are well in contact with the soil. 7. Mulch well. Do not cover with the soil, which has been dug out. 8. Whenever water or Amrutpani is given it should be given in the channel zone. 9. After 2 months repeat this procedure for the quadrant opposite to this quadrant, and continue in the remaining 2 quadrants at intervals of two months. This has to be done only one quadrant at a time in order to allow the root system to heal completely before the next ‘operation’ is performed. During this time the remaining 3 quadrants can absorb sufficient nutrition for the plant minimizing the shock. 10. Every 3 months, for about 4 years, 25 grams per square foot of ash should be sprinkled on top of the channel area after watering to replace the loss of the nutrition. After 4 years the soil around will become so rich as to release the potash and other nutrients, as in the natural forests. 11. After the 8th month this procedure can be repeated around the full circumference at once on a zone 1 foot outside the previous channel. This channel can simultaneously be used for another crop for 2 – 3 tier cropping. CANOPY Proper canopy management helps to maximize the harvesting of solar energy. In nature, only plants are able to convert the energy of the sun into matter through the process of photosynthesis. Any sun energy that is lost is lost forever. The object of this science is to maximize the harvest of this energy by increasing the surface area of leaves exposed to the sun. The canopy is directly proportional to the growth of the feeder roots. In nature the canopy is managed by various animals that eat the leaves and branches. In the same way, we can prune the plants in order to maximize the canopy, to increase the quality and quantity of the fruits and manage the time of harvesting. Every tree has its own shape, which works as an antenna and attracts cosmic energy, which enhances the quality of the fruit. This can be managed by proper pruning. This has been specifically developed through Natueco Science for each variety of crop individually, and some of it can be read in the book ‘Plenty for all’ by the late Shri Dhabholkar. This is being taught in still more details in the workshops held by SHARAN. Canopy mathematics: 3 to 4 gm of dry matter (glucose) can be produced on one sq. foot of area per day by mature green canopy of leaves, which is equivalent to 12 to 16 kcal. of energy (1 gm. of dry matter = 4 kcal.). In order to produce this optimum quantity of dry matter the green canopy area needed by plants is to 5 to 10 times this area based on the leaf index number of the plant/crop. For instance a groundnut plant requires 2.5 sq. feet of total leaf area and a banana plant requires 125 sq. feet of leaf area to produce 3 to 4 gm of dry weight. IMPORTANCE OF LEAF (CANOPY) AREA Crop Land area required per fully grown plant Leaf surface area (total area that mature leaves would cover: biomass) Total dry matter production per day per plant. Common errors in canopy management: 1. Plants are grown too close together so that they do not get the optimum area of leaf space. Thus they are not able to achieve optimum photosynthesis and production. This is commonly seen in grain and legume crops resulting in excess seed usage and lowering the production. This is also seen in some fruit trees like coconut where the leaves overlap. Here the number of plants needed is more and the production is low. No pruning. If pruning is not done, the growth of new flushes is restricted. It is essential to understand where pruning should be done in order to develop the tertiary branch and maintain the index of leaves at the earliest in order to harvest the best yield. Some plants like coconut, banana, papaya do not require any pruning.