36 years of forestry research by Smurfit Kappa in Colombia
For 36 years the Forestry Research Department has been very important for the development of the forestry division of Smurfit Kappa Cartón de Colombia (SKCC) in three main areas.
Tree breeding and genetic improvement research programme:
The Forestry Research Department focused its early efforts on the introduction and testing of several tree species to obtain fibres for the company products. A series of offspring tests were conducted to compare among the different species. Genetic improvement is based on clonal forestry for eucalyptus in which the best trees are selected and reproduced through rooted cuttings of the same tree; and family forestry for pines, in which the best seedlings are collected from outstanding trees. No genetic modification practices are used; it is all based on selection of the best individuals.
Forests and productivity research programme:
With the acquisition of new farms, new challenges appeared such as, how many trees to plant, how to prepare the land, when and how often to control the weeds and how to supply additional substances for the trees to grow even better, and to take advantage of the potential created through genetic improvement.
The research programme has developed three computerised applications:
1. SMURFERC establishment, for calculating and optimising the amount of fertiliser required for planting each of the six working species in the 64 different soil units present in our land holdings;
2. SMURFERC maintenance, that makes it possible to determine, through early stage analysis of the leaves in pine and eucalyptus plantations, the nutritional status and growth, to generate nutritional managements options; and
3. Cartón de Colombia Carbon fixation Programme (3Cfix), an application that allows the forestry division to calculate, with local growth-drain calculations and indices from scientific studies of how pines and Eucalypts work, the carbon fix and stocks of the plantations, as well as how much CO2 is removed from the atmosphere during the process. All these calculations can be made on a yearly basis.
Plants health protection research programme:
As the nature of our forest holdings changed, the different species of trees were exposed to a wide variety of environmental conditions. Over time, various diseases and pests appeared, giving rise to concerns over forest productivity and fibre quality. The plants health protection research programme was started in 1988 with the aim of solving these problems. It has three main working components: training, prevention, and disease & pest risk management.