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For Optimizing Fertilizer Use

A Collaborative Project
of Rubber Research Institute of India, Rubber Board, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India
and Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management - Kerala

Soil nutrient status and fertilizer recommendation at your fingertips.

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Rubber Soil Information System

  • Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII), Rubber Board in collaboration with National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP), ICAR undertook a detailed survey of rubber growing soils of South India with an objective to bring the entire rubber area in the country within the ambit of soil test based fertilizer recommendation.
  • Rubber growing area (three years and older) in each panchayat was mapped with medium resolution satellite images of scale 1:50000 and one composite soil sample (0-30 cm) was collected from each 50 ha rubber area. Soil samples were also collected using core samplers to determine the gravel content. Location coordinates of sites of soil samples were recorded by GPS. Between December 2012 and May 2013, 11000 soil samples were collected from rubber growing regions of South India.
  • Soil samples were analysed following standard analytical protocols for soil pH, organic carbon and primary, secondary and micronutrients in the laboratories of RRII and NBSS & LUP and nutrient content in the fine earth fraction was mapped with geostatistical techniques, deriving a surface using the values from the measured locations to predict values for each location in the landscape by Kriging interpolation technique.
  • Web based fertilizer recommendation was developed based on interpolated soil fertility data in collaboration with Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management - Kerala (IIITM-K) overlaying different soil fertility parameters and soil depth following the guidelines of discriminatory fertilizer recommendation.

Rubber Research Institute of India

The Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) was established in 1955. The Institute has attained a prestigious position in the international rubber scenario through its research contributions. RRII is a member of the International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB) and actively participates in many international research programmes. RRII has played a significant role in India achieving high productivity by developing high yielding rubber clones and good agricultural practices.

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Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management - Kerala

Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management - Kerala (IIITM-K) is a premier institution of excellence in Science, Technology and Management related to Information Technology that develops professionals and leaders of high calibre imbued with values of entrepreneurship, ethics and social responsibility. IIITM-K is actively promoting higher education and industry across Kerala and beyond through its IT facilitated education programs and services.


General Information


Rubber tree can grow on a wide range of soils. The soils of the rubber tracts in India are highly weathered and are mostly laterite and lateritic. These soils are acidic in nature and generally high in organic carbon content.

Manures and fertilizers

Major sources of nutrients are manures and fertilizers.


Manures are decomposed materials that were once part of plants or animals.

These materials are usually bulky in nature and low in nutrient contents. However, these materials improve many soil properties apart from supplying nutrients at a slow pace.

e.g. Farm Yard Manure


Fertilizers are natural or synthetic in origin which can supply one or more plant nutrients. Fertilizers are broadly classified as follows.

  • Straight fertilizers - those which supply only one plant nutrient mainly. e.g. Urea, Muriate of potash etc.
  • Complex fertilizers - contain two or three major plant nutrients of which two are in chemically combined form. e.g. Diammonium phosphate, Ammonium phosphate etc.
  • Mixed fertilizers - physical mixtures of straight fertilizers. They contain two or three primary plant nutrients. Mixed fertilizers are made by thoroughly mixing the ingredients either mechanically or manually. e.g. 10:10:4:1.5 NPKMg, 10:10:10 NPK mixture etc.
* Straight fertilizers are cheaper.

Nutrients commonly applied in rubber plantations

N, P and K are applied to rubber plants in general. Mg, Zn and B can be applied when soil is low in the status of these nutrients. The rate and quantity are decided based on the soil test reports as well as considering the age of the plants.

Common fertilizers used in rubber plantations are Urea (N- 46%), Rock phosphate or Rajphos (P2O5 - 16-18 %) and Muriate of potash (K2O-60%). Zinc sulphate (Zn-21%) and Borax (B- 11 %) are the common sources of micronutrients applied in rubber plantations.

How and when to apply fertilizers?

In the first year of planting, fertilizer application is done 2-3 months after planting. From second year onwards, the fertilizers should be applied in two equal split doses during pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons.

In mature plantations, fertilizers may be applied in two equal split doses. First application should be done 3-4 weeks after the onset of pre-monsoon showers (when there is prolific growth of feeder roots in the surface soil). The second application should be done during the post-monsoon season.

Micronutrient fertilizers are recommended in small quantities and for uniform distribution, they can be mixed with equal quantity of farm yard manure or top soil before applying in the field. These fertilizers are to be applied two weeks after the application of NPK fertilizers. If the soil moisture content is not adequate, micronutrient application should be postponed till there is adequate soil moisture.

The method of fertilizer application depends on the stage of growth of the plants. During the first year, fertilizers should be evenly distributed over a circular band of 30 cm around the base of young plants, leaving about 7 cm from the base and slightly forked in to the top 5 to 8 cm soil. Fertilizer application in the second year should be done in a circular band leaving 15 cm around the plant base. The applications in subsequent years till the canopy of the rubber plants closes should be made in circular bands of steadily increasing width. Once the canopy closes (about five years after planting), fertilizers can be broadcasted in the inter-row areas of rubber.

Deep pocket placement of fertilizers and application too close to the base of the trees should be avoided.

At the time of planting, rock phosphate @ 200g/pit may be incorporated with top soil.

In areas with soil pH less than 5.0 (extremely acidic or very strongly acidic soil) and with low available Calcium status, it is highly desirable, if not essential to apply burned powdered shell lime (Neettukakka) @ 250g /plant or dolomite @ 500g/ plant in the planting pit at the time of pit filling or 2-3 weeks before planting, and this should be thoroughly mixed with soil. Planting should be done after the receipt of a few showers.

Basal application of farm yard manure either in planting pits or plant basins also should be done.

Fertilizers should be applied when there is sufficient moisture in the soil.

Method of Fertilizer Application

Fertilizer Application: Do’s and Don’ts

Usually in rubber plantations fertilizer application is done during the months of May/June and September/October.

For maximum nutrient absorption by plants, soil should be moist while fertilizers are applied.

Do not apply fertilizers during heavy and continuous rainy days to avoid wastage.

Fertilizer mixtures containing Urea and Magnesium Sulphate should be applied immediately after mixing.

There should be a gap of minimum two to three weeks between lime and fertilizer applications.

Micronutrient fertilizers are to be applied two weeks after the application of NPK fertilizers.

Care should be taken that fertilizers do not come into direct contact with young plants. Sufficient gap as per the recommendation to be given.

Ensure application of correct dose of fertilizers. Overdose of fertilizers is not beneficial; instead this is harmful to the crop, soil and environment.

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Rubber Research Institute of India

Rubber Board P.O.,
Kerala, India
PIN : 686009
Ph : +91 481 2353311

Indian Institute of Information Technology & Management - Kerala

IIITM-K Building,Technopark Campus,
Kerala, India
PIN : 695581
Ph : +91 471 2527567