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Arboriculture is a practice and science that studies everything about trees, i.e., how they grow, how they respond, and the methods used to cultivate them. It’s all about nurturing trees, plants, shrubs, and other woody plants. In simple terms, it’s about caring for trees.
In practice, arboriculture is about executing the methods used to care for and maintain trees, such as identifying which trees to plant, applying fertilizer, spraying pesticides to prevent insects, pests, and diseases, bracing and cabling, diagnosing tree ailments, treating trees, cutting trees and pruning them.
The people who practice arboriculture are known as arborists. Arborists need both physical skills and knowledge to nurture trees properly. An arborist can learn how to grow plants and trees by gaining arboriculture knowledge. Among arborists in the United States, almost 7.4 percent are women, compared to 92 percent are men. Arborists are usually mistaken for landscapers. They are different from landscapers. However, there are a few landscapers who have trained as an arborist. Overall, both are completely different professions.
The history of arboriculture traces its way back to when nomadic populations first settled down in villages. They began with plant domestication- which led to the emergence of agriculture and arboriculture.
Arboriculture developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt (The Fertile Crescent). The trees first to be cultivated were native species. Migration, exchanges, and trade between civilizations introduced cultivation methods and several cultivated species to Europe. For example, due to the conquests of Alexander the Great, several fruit trees, which are popular in Asia, came from Europe to Asia. They include pear, apple, plum, and apricot trees. During the Middle Ages, orchards structured the territory while also providing food.
In the 18th century, Alembert and Diderot’s Encyclopedia detailed several arboriculture techniques in the tree section. In the 19th century, arboriculture became popular among the middle classes. Their enthusiasm for arboriculture resulted in the development of conservatory orchards, the creation of national inventories of cultivated trees and plants, and a profusion of literature on the subject.
And lastly, coming to the 20th century, World War II transformed arboriculture into a practice that focused on production.
Arboriculture is a science that needs careful planning and far more developed techniques than cereal cultivation. Selecting and planting trees and plants has long-term implications for a certain piece of land, especially as some species of trees take years to grow.
The climate usually determines the selection of the cultivar. It is always possible to plant seeds to begin the cultivation process. However, the trees would grow slowly, and the fruit quality would be uneven. Thus, propagation is usually the preferred option. There are two methods of propagation. They include propagation of cuttings- a slower and simpler process- and grafting- a more complicated and profitable process.
Propagation of cuttings includes taking a young shoot of a plant for reproduction. First, it is cut and then transferred into a pot so that it can develop into a new tree. Grafting involves the insertion of a cutting into a host plant so that the two can become one and grow together.
Pruning branches and pinching buds help control the shape and fructification of trees. Regular watering of the trees, spraying insecticides and fungicides, and various treatments promote growth and reduce the risk of diseases.