Good root development is important in the growth of rubber seedlings. To accomplish this, the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), together with various regional agricultural field offices in Mindanao, developed the root trainer technology that will facilitate better growth for rubber plants.

Root trainers are specifically designed plastic containers, which has vertical ridges inside to promote healthy growth of roots.

Requiring less labor, the root trainer technology will enhance the development of straight tap root and many root hairs, which allow the rubber plant to withstand environmental stress after planting. Moreover, one whorl of rubber plants grown in root trainer are ready for transplanting in 6-7 months compared with the conventional method of sowing one whorl of rubber seeds in budded polybags, which can take 8-10 months.

Root trainer is just one of the technologies developed under the Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) for rubber of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

As a high-value industrial crop, rubber is one of the country’s primary exports.

To maintain rubber’s position as an export commodity, PCAARRD’s ISP aims to address the supply chain problems of the rubber industry through S&T solutions.

These solutions include rapid clonal mass propagation techniques and use of root trainer in nursery production; package of technology in nursery and plantation management of high yielding clones (HYCs) in non-traditional rubber production areas; optimized rehabilitation techniques for senescent rubber trees and production system through rubber-based agroforestry system in National Greening Program sites; optimized rubber latex harvesting/tapping and coagulation techniques and varietal improvement; and selection through barcoding of HYCs.

by Jan Ariss Jadraque, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services