erosion. Neem is just one candidate for such reforestation, of course, but it is a good one.
This tree is a farmer's friend and, when people know it better, it is likely to stimulate much spontaneous planting, especially as markets for its fruits and seeds develop. On the farm and around the house neem is useful not only as a windbreak and a welcome source of shade, but its seedcake is a good fertilizer—containing (as we have noted) nitrogen, potash, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.
Neem is usually easy to establish. It grows best on deep, well-drained sandy soils. However, it often fails on silty or micaceous loams and silty clays, in depressions with slow drainage, and in soils with high or seasonally fluctuating water tables.
In their first months after transplanting from a nursery, neem seedlings greatly benefit from tillage, weeding, irrigation, and one or two fertilizations.
Young plants develop fairly rapidly, at least after the first season. As a rule their girth increases 2-3 cm a year, although even faster growth is often attained.
Neem needs open sunlight for best performance, but seedlings vigorously push their way up through thorny scrub and even crop plants.2 The seedlings begin by emphasizing root growth. Only when roots are well established does the overhead growth become rapid. In harsh environments and on poor soils, this early emphasis on establishing extensive roots endows the tree with exceptional ability to survive adversity.
Although neem can be raised in nurseries and transplanted as seedlings, direct sowing on the site is sometimes easier and more successful. Seeds should be taken from thoroughly ripe fruits picked directly off the trees. They should be sown as quickly as possible.
Examples of some experiences with planting neem follow.
Neem has been planted in many parts of Asia: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri
Tree planters have taken advantage of this feature in trials in West Africa. They planted neem along with pearl millet, and, after the crop was harvested, a good stand of healthy young trees remained. This made possible the establishment of a neem plantation at a relatively low cost. Neem did surprisingly well under pearl millet. Although hidden beneath the towering crop (3 m tall) for several months, it did not appear to suffer.