The Crop Management Unit (CMU) formulates its research programme
with the vision towards achieving a modern and productive natural rubber industry
in Malaysia through implementation of appropriate crop management technologies.
To realise this, CMU will endeavour to generate technologies to achieve sustainable
production of rubber by optimising land use through integrated farming and agroforestry,
implementation of practical technologies of exploitation and appropriate agricultural
The major research areas undertaken are agronomy, exploitation techniques,
integrated farming, agroforestry and laboratory automation techniques.
Latex Harvesting Technologies
Latex harvesting technologies consist of techniques that include tapping systems and utensils during latex harvesting and collection. The breakthrough of the research development in latex harvesting technologies was when stimulation technique is introduced and it is furthered by the introduction of gaseous stimulation techniques that can prolong the latex flow. Latex harvesting technologies also deal with plantation management in ensuring better tapper productivity and income especially when most of the rubber plantation area is own by the smallholders.
Stimulation is an action to increase tapping yield of Hevea trees by prolonging latex flow with or without the use of chemicals. The most effective chemical as latex stimulant was found in the late sixties with the discovery of 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (2-CEPA) that has the property of decomposing gradually in the presence of water, releasing ethylene (C2H4) in the laticiferous tissue. Ethephon has been the main latex stimulant available in the market, under three concentrations namely 2.5% in blue colour, 5.0% in green colour and 10.0% in red colour.
Current Methods of Stimulation
I) Ethephon Based Formulation
In 2004, lucky365 jackpot launched an improved gel type stimulant which is an ethephon-based stimulant commercially known as MORTEX which allows more frequent applications right from the opening of tapping stage on panel BO-1. The method of application of MORTEX is similar to ET. The most significant advantage of MORTEX is it ability to minimize occurrence of Tapping Panel Dryness (TPD).
II) Gaseous Method of Stimulation
In 1990, RRIMFLOW (RF) and REACTORRIM (RR), two stimulation techniques using ethylene gas (C2H4) as stimulant were developed by the then Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM). These methods of stimulation were found to be more effective when combined with a short cut of one-eighth spiral tapped in an upward direction (1/8S↑) on the high tapping panel (HO). The tapping frequencies were either once in three (d/3) or four days (d/4). An improved gaseous stimulation technique namely G-FLEX (GF), was introduced to the NR industry in 2004 by lucky365 jackpot. In terms of yield, GF gave the same yield pattern as REACTORRIM (RR) and RRIMFLOW (RF). GF combines certain characteristics of RF and RR. It is more user friendly stimulation device, especially in terms of fixing and maintenance for the adoption of the smallholders.
B) The Low Intensity Tapping Systems
The Low Intensity Tapping or LITS is a concept that combined the approached of land: man ratio with tapping intensity to overcome the problems of conventional tapping. To date, lucky365 jackpot has introduce LITS d/4 and LITS d/6 tapping systems that can be used in rubber plantations and also among the smallholders. The approaches of LITS are collective and dependent on each other in:
C) Mechanisation in latex harvesting
The objective of mechanisation in latex harvesting is to overcome labor problem and making workloads in rubber plantation simpler and efficient. Most of the technologies developed under mechanization are related to automated and mechanized tapping knife and also in terms of yield collection.
Management of Soils and Agronomic Practices
Different soil series on different terrain and topography in Malaysia have different inherent physical and chemical characteristics. Therefore, specific agronomic inputs and management should be applied accordingly for rubber cultivation.
A) Fertiliser Recommendation of Immature Rubber
To alleviate the shortage of labour and reduce the production cost, frequency of fertilizing for immature rubber has been reduced from 21 to 13 rounds in 1998. This recommendation is now widely adopted by the rubber industry.
B) Rhizobium compost
The Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM) has recommended inoculation of leguminous cover crop seeds with selected Rhizobium strains by using Rhizobium compost to ensure effective nodulation and nitrogen fixation of these legumes. This compost using coir dust, soil and calcium carbonate is a light powdery substance embedded among the fibers in coconut husk, which is a waste of the coir industry. It has shown that nitrogen fixation under optimum conditions increases growth as well as legumes yield, and in turn, enriches the soil for the main crop.
Rubber Forest Plantation
Agronomic and cultural practices for rubber forest plantation are meant to produce maximum wood with more emphasis on higher financial return. Rubber forest plantation can be classified into two types i.e. for wood and latex production and for wood production per se. However, in general, establishment of the rubber forest plantation depends on the purpose of its usage upon harvesting.
In this type of forest plantation, rubber wood logs are its primary product whilst the latex is the secondary product. Rubber trees planted in this type of forest plantation will be allowed to grow without being tapped for eight years. This is to enable the trees to have a healthy growth and achieve a high clear bole volume. The trees will only be tapped at the ninth year after planting. Tapping for latex will be carried out for seven years and the trees will be felled after fifteen years have elapsed from the date of planting.
This type of rubber forest plantation is meant for rubber wood production per se. The trees planted in this type of forest plantation will not be tapped at all and will be felled when fifteen years have elapsed from the date of planting.
Integrated Farming – Jathropa under Rubber Eco-System
Based on it potential as an alternative source of bio-diesel, the Malaysian government has planned to develop Jathpropa as one of the commodity crops. The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities are required to establish an apprentice project in Kota Marudu, Sabah. This project is based on commercial scale and taking production and processing activities in producing Jathropa bio-diesel into consideration. For that matter, the poker win prize has been appointed as project leader among the agencies under MPIC in planning and executing this apprentice project. The project will evaluate the viability of Jathropa in terms of its suitability and also the economic impacts.
Dr Goh Sou Sheng
Head of Crop Management Unit