Field Research Laboratory (FRL)

Field Research Laboratory (FRL)

Historical Background

Field Research Laboratory (FRL), one of the laboratories of Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), New Delhi located at Leh (11,500 ft) is brain child of the first Prime Minister of India, late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
It was established under the administrative control of DRDO in 1962 to wage war with nature for making hostile terrain of Ladakh reasonably green and productive, not only to sustain its meager and sparse population but also military and paramilitary forces deployed in this sector.
The laboratory has its research stations at Ranbirpura (11,900 ft) and Partapur (Nubra-Siachen Brigade – 9,500 ft) and its rear base at ‘N’ Area, Chandigarh.

Field Research Laboratory (FRL)


1. Vegetable Science
-Standardised agro-techniques (organically) for 65 types of vegetables including tropical, subtropical and temperate vegetables. Suitable varieties/hybrids for all these crops were also identified.
-New vegetable crops such as parsley, celery, sarda melon, Japanese bunching onion, sweet turnip, karam sag, chenopodium and garlic were introduced and the cultivation practices are being standardized.
-Seed production technology for vegetable crops were standardized and demonstrated.
-Garlic aerial true to type seed bulbil technology which saves up to 15 q/ h planting material was successfully demonstrated.
-Solar based greenhouses including low cost double walled polyenches and trenches were designed and its suitability for round the year vegetable cultivation was standardized, demonstrated and disseminated.
-Greenhouses and have already been established along the LOC including Kargil and Siachen for round the year vegetable cultivation.
-Established terrace farming with integrated irrigation system with drip, sprinkler and studied the water use efficiency and established 50% water saving.
-Underground storage techniques for storage of perishable vegetables during frozen winters were developed and demonstrated.
-Achieved vegetable supply of 50% of total demand of the army deployed in ‘L’ sector through local farmer’s co-operative/ marketing society.
-FRL green house technology has been accepted by LAHDC for dissemination to the locals and is providing Rs. 50,000 subsidy per greenhouse.
-Triple layered polycarbonate green houses are most suitable to grow early seedlings i.e. in 1st week of April for protected cultivation to take early crop and also ensuring 300% cropping intensity.

2. Horticulture & Post Harvest Technology
-Surveyed, identified, evaluated and conserved 54 genotypes of indigenous apricot from cold arid Ladakh.
-Developed vegetative methods of propagation in apricot by grafting, chip budding and top working.
-Established scion bud wood bank and progeny orchard of apricot.
Standardized propagation techniques for apple through grafting and budding.
-Established gene bank of apricot, apple, seabuckthorn, cherry, walnut, strawberry, mulberry
-Developed processing /value addition techniques for low quality apricot for production of nectar, jam, jelly, juice, nectar / RTS, puree, hurdle technology, Intermediate moisture, bar etc. which have industrial potential.
-Surveyed variability and area under seabuckthorn, a wonder plant of cold dessert (about 11,500ha) using remote sensing technology.
-Developed the technology for preparation of herbal beverage from fruits of seabuckthorn. The beverage is rich sources of vitamin A, C, B, K, & E and does not freeze up to -22 degree centigrade. Since the product is having anti-aging and anti-stress properties, it has been included in the special ration of Indian Army. Transferred the technology to 4 vendors and they are manufacturing the herbal beverage commercially.
-Also developed technology for production of jam, sauce, puree, pickle, chyavanaprash and other beverage from seabuckthorn, which will be exploited on commercial scale.
-The laboratory has designed & developed low cost drier such as solar polyhouse drier, Tunnel drier, LPG driers, drier for scientific dehydration of surplus fruit and vegetables of the region.
-Developed mechanical harvester for Seabuckthorn fruit collection without damaging the plant
-Developed polyploids of Seabuckthorn through colchine treatment for developing ideal ideotype
-Developed grafted Seabuckthorn through intergeneric (Elaegnus sp) grafting technique having less thorn
-In order to develop floriculture industry in the region the laboratory has introduced and demonstrated the cultivation of improved varieties of gladiolus, Asiatic Lilium, carnation for their commercial production.
-FRL recognized as nodal center for FPO licencing and granted FPO license No. 19066.

3. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
-Surveyed, identified and documented floristic wealth of Ladakh and Lahaul-Spiti with emphasis on medicinal & aromatic plants.
-Rare, endangered and threatened medicinal & aromatic plants viz. Aconitum sp, Dactylorhiza sp, Ephedra sp, Inula sp, Podophyllum sp were enlisted and conserved as ex situ.
-Techniques were developed for propagation and cultivation of 30 high altitude medicinal & aromatic plants for commercial cultivation.
-Established Alpine herbal garden of 50 medicinal & aromatic plants for R&D activities.
-Phytochemical studies being carried out for high altitude medicinal & aromatic plants viz. Hippophae sp, Rhodiola sp, Podophyllum sp to develop herbal medicines for high altitude maladies under Programme CHARAK.
-Extraction of oil from pulp and seed of seabuckthorn was standardized and physico-chemical properties were studied.
-Designed morphological descriptor for seabuckthorn based on 81 attributes
Essential oils were extracted from high altitude aromatic plants viz. Artemisia sp, Dracocephallum sp, Mentha sp, Salvia sp, Tanacetum sp for its commercialisation.
-Medicated DRDO herbal tea was formulated using high altitude medicinal & aromatic plants. The technology has been transferred for commercial production and introduced in high altitude ration of army.
-Herbal appetizer has been formulated by using high altitude medicinal plants and tested for toxicity and found to be non-toxic. Clinical studies are in progress.

4. Biotechnology
-Studied molecular variability of 19 indigenous Seabuckthorn germplasm and found five genetically diverse groups.
-Standardised micropropagation protocols for Stevia, Artemisia and Strawberry.
-Isolated 25 gram positive/catalase strains from Leh soil, which are growing at pH 6.8 -11.0 and are able to grow at 2.5 – 7.0 % salt concentrations. Three isolates are capable to hydrolyse, caseine, the other 04 starch and 13 isolates are capable to hydrolyse gelatin
-Protein profiling of 52 apricot germplasm was done.

5. Poultry
-Developed cold arid poultry production technology to boost the availability of meat and eggs.
-Developed solar poultry housing system suited for high altitudes to utilize the solar energy, reducing dependence on conventional energy sources and to achieve optimum cost of production.
-Introduced alternative sources of meat i.e. turkeys in Ladakh region. Conducted user’s cum acceptability trial for alternate meat sources and found Turkeys acceptable to army in lieu of broiler during winter periods.
-Formulated balanced and economical poultry feed suitable for high altitude, cold arid conditions thereby reducing incidence of Ascites and nutritional deficiency disease cases.
-Poultry production is being enhanced through small local poultry farmers by providing vital technical support.
-Established a broiler unit of 400 birds capacity at GRTU Raiwala for the purpose of training & demonstration to the Gorkha troops for rehabilitation programme.
-Generated crossbred fowls of local X commercial broilers through 3 way crosses to select desired genotypes for breed development, suitable for cold climatic conditions.

6. Dairy
-Upgradation of local cattle is being carried out by providing natural service to local cows by proven sire and adopting assisted reproductive technique such as artificial insemination.
-Dairy farming techniques for Ladakh sector were developed and disseminated to local farmers by pedigree calves distribution programme.
-Clinical diagnostic and therapeutic facilities were disseminated to the local farmers.
-Ensuring supply of fresh milk to troops deployed in ‘L’ sector.

7. Sheep & Goat
-Developed package of practices for breeding and rearing of sheep and goat in cold desert
-Generated F1’s (broiler sheep) of Muzzafarnagri x Changthangi and its reciprocal as well as Pashmina x Chegu goat.
-Broiler sheep i.e. F1’s of Muzzafarnagri x Changthangi is found fast growing

8. Equine breeding
-Local equine germplasm (Zanskar ponies) of Ladakh are being conserved, multiplied and upgraded. Genetic characterization of Zanskar ponies and the progeny is being carried out by molecular characterization.
-Generated crossbred equines (Zanskar mares X Half linger stallion) and mules (Zanskar mares X Donkey stallion).
-Comparative performance of Zanskar ponies, GS Mules and GS ponies was evaluated at high altitude and found Zanskari breed superior over GS mules and ponies.
-Training of ponies and issue to Ladakh Scout was done to meet their annual wastage requirements.
-Evolved a package of equine management practices for sustained performance of pack animals without affecting their general health and condition.
-The Zanskari ponies are being issued to army at the place of GS mules/ponies in ‘L’ sector.
-The artificial insemination (AI) technology was employed first time in Zanskari ponies and genetically superior crossbreds and Zanskari foals were born through this technology.

9. Agroforestry and Transfer of Technology
-Contributed in greening of ‘L’ sector, which resulted in eco-environment improvement.
-Standardised propagation techniques of forest species such as Populus, Salix, Elaeagnus, Ulmus and Syringa.
-Developed of database on cold arid agro-animal technology
-Regular training on agro-animal activities viz. vegetable cultivation, raising of vegetable nursery, greenhouse cultivation for subzero vegetable cultivation, cultivation of exotic vegetables, quality vegetable seed production, processing of surplus vegetables, processing of vegetables and fruits, poultry rearing and production, dairy management to troops and local people under OP Sadbhawana, NGO’s and general public.

10. Extension services
-Disseminating the agro-animal technologies through:
-Literature distribution, Farm demonstration, Imparting training & consultancy
Organising Kisan Jawan Vigyan Mela
-Distributing the improved basic inputs
-Radio and TV talks

11. Patents
-Process of preparation of multivitamin herbal beverage from seabuckthorn fruits.
-Process for preparation of herbal jam from fruits of seabuckthorn
-Formulation of DRDO herbal tea from trans-Himalayan herbs
-A process for preparation of a radio protective herbal extract.
-An underground structure for moderating extreme cold conditions for storage of vegetables during winter in cold desert region
-Solar based semi underground greenhouse technology for vegetable production in subzero temperature
-Design of solar polyhouse drier for drying of surplus vegetables and fruits
-Design of Solar Poultry house
-Double wall polyench greenhouse

12. Publications
-Documentary films
-Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Jai Vigyan
-Medicinal plants of Ladakh
-Vegetable cultivation in Ladakh
-Vegetable Production in Ladakh
-Agriculture in Ladakh
-Societal Contribution of vegetables in Ladakh
-Protected Cultivation of vegetables in Ladakh (In Hindi)
-Cold Desert Plants (Vol: I -V)
-Transformation of a Ladakhi village – Nang
-Sindhu Darshan (A annual Hindi Magazine)
-Alfalfa (Lucerne) Production in Ladakh
-Gladiolus Cultivation in Ladakh
-Dairy Farming in Ladakh
-A checklist on medicinal and aromatic plants of trans-Himalaya
-Ladakh mein Sabjiyon ka utpadan (In Hindi)
-FRL Chronicle (1962-2004). In Pursuit of Excellence.
-The Seabuckthorn
-Production technology of garlic in cold desert
-Cold desert trans Himalayan plants and ethnobotany (Ladakh & Lahul Spiti)

Extension Folders
-FRL at a glance
-Strawberry Cultivation in Ladakh
-Gladiolus cultivation in Ladakh
-Seabuckthorn-A hope for greening of Ladakh
-Planting tips for a forester
-Plant diversity of Ladakh
-Medicinal & aromatic wealth of Indian cold desert (Ladakh & Lahaul-Spiti)
-Techniques for Cucurbits cultivation in cold desert: Ladakh
-Cultural tips for growing vegetables in Ladakh
-Quail rearing in Ladakh
-Tips for broiler production in Ladakh
-Fodder plants of Ladakh
-Alfalfa production in Ladakh
-Propagation techniques in apricot
-Introducing Lilium in Ladakh
-Solar greenhouse technology for vegetable production in high altitude cold arid regions
-Poster on annual flowers for identification and agrotechniqes.

Research Papers
Over 135 research papers on various aspects of cold arid agro-animal technology.