The selection of an appropriate nursery site is the most important decision affecting the efficient production of good quality plants. It must start from a well-defined statement of objective of the nursery, which must include details such as:
- The number of plants to be produced each year,
- The species,
- The type and size of plants,
- The location of the plantation and villages to be supplied,
- The expected life of nursery etc.
The selection of the site to be agreed upon at least six months before the first seed is sown. Both technical and social factors must be taken into account, so it is important allow time for the local community to discuss the proposed sites. It is usually advisable to visit the area several times and to allow as many people as possible to made aware of and to comment on the proposal. It is essential to take the views of the local people into consideration and to make them aware of the technical issues involved, so that a joint decision can be made which as far as possible, is in keeping with the community’s wishes along with technical feasibility.
Nursery should be situated as centrally as possible with reference to the area to be planted. It should be close to the source of supply and labour to do various works as and when required. In order to have good irrigation facility, it should be suited near or slightly below the source of adequate water supply. Soil should be well drained sandy loam. Clayey soils should not be selected as the aeration and drainage is poor and they are liable to crack during summer. As far as possible, it should be made in newly cleared forest land with no overhead shade except in hot dry dry localities where it is beneficial. In some site shade from south is, however, usually advantageous. It should never be located in a natural blank. In the hills, a gentle slope not exceeding 5° should be selected. If the slope is steeper, cost of terracing increases. A site such as a valley bottoms where cold air could stagnate must be avoided. Shelter on site against prevailing winds is important. It can be prepared with the help of vegetative barriers. Techno-economic aspects should be considered thoroughly before deciding a big or small size nursery. When transport facilities are not available, the nursery sites should be close to the planting site.
The final selection of the site should be based on evaluating the relative advantages and disadvantages of three or more possible sites after a thorough inspection of the area.
In the selection of suitable site for nursery, one aspect plays a very important role is that north facing slops are cooler and more humid and may be preferred for nurseries at lower evaluations, whereas nurseries above 1200 meter should take advantage of warmer southern slopes. Care should be taken not to lose this benefit by setting a nursery on a south-facing slope which is shade in the morning or evening by adjacent ridges. Higher the elevation of the nursery the more important this is.
A slop of 2 to 3 % is necessary to permit water to drain off without causing erosion. If the nursery has to be built on a completely flat site, it will be necessary to build a drainage system to prevent water logging. Areas threatened by landslides and subject to flooding or strong wind must be avoided. At higher elevations especially, sites which are particularly liable to frost should also be avoided as far as possible.