|Special Public Works Programmes - SPWP - Planting Trees - An Illustrated Technical Guide and Training Manual (ILO - UNDP, 1993, 190 p.)|
|3. Handling seedlings|
The time between the seedlings, leaving nursery and their being planted should be as short as possible. They must be constantly protected from strong light, heat and drying out. There are small root hairs that will dry out and wither in seconds if left exposed to the sun or dry winds. The seedling should be thoroughly watered before leaving the nursery. This will provide the seedling with the largest possible reserve of water and minimize the risk of soil being shaken out of the pots during transport.
Only the containers should be held when containerized seedlings are carried. Seedlings should never be held by the shoots. Whenever possible, use boxes for transport.
Metal platforms of vehicles often get very hot, and this will burn the root tips at the bottom of the pots. Pour water over the platform and/or spread out soil, straw or twigs. It is especially important to put a thick layer over the exhaust pipe otherwise the heat may destroy some of the seedlings. If the seedlings are loaded onto carts, pickups or trucks, load densely and upright. Make sure that they do not fall over during the transport. If necessary, water the plants on the arrival at the planting site.
If a vehicle is carrying the plants, it should travel at moderate speed and the plants should be covered by a layer of grass, a mat or a tarpaulin to prevent them from being dried out by the wind.
Transport from the nursery to the planting site is often a limiting factor, slowing the progress of the planting work. Simple metal structures with several shelves, as shown in the illustration on the preceding page, can multiply the capacity of trucks and trailers several fold.
Packing and transport of seedlings
Water seedlings before they leave the nursery
Never pull by the shoots
Use trays and boxes for transport
Spread straw or twigs
Cover plants with a mat
Bare-rooted seedlings have to be packaged in order for the roots to be well protected from drying out. Sacking, banana leaves, plastic bags with ventilation holes or cans may be used for packing and wrapping. To preserve moisture, the roots can be covered with wet grass, leaves, sawdust or a mixture of water and clay.