Jatropha Seeds For Biodiesel
Jatropha seeds are thin shelled ones with back color. They have oblong shape. A Jatropha seed resembles the castor seeds. 2 to 3 large black and oily seeds in a single seed shell.
The matured jatropha seeds are 2 ½ cm long and they can be easily crushed to extract the oil from them. Nearly 33% of oil can be obtained by crushing the seeds. The oil of these seeds is used as a biofuel.
The jatropha seeds are toxic hence they are not used as food product but used to prepare inedible products like biodiesel and fertilizers. The seeds are considered as toxic since they enclose toxalbumin curcin. Still there are some non toxic jatropha seed varieties.
The toxic can be destroyed by roasting the seeds. Since, it contains a high percentage of cleaning oil which is used for candles, soaps and also as a biofuel product.
Biodiesel extracted from jatropha curcas is called as Jatropoha Methyl Ester. The seed of physic nut jatropha has insecticides and fungicides properties in them. The latex of the plant contains alkaloid which has anti cancerous property.
High quality jatropha seeds have the following yield during their yield.
- Year 1 - 3kg/tree
- Year 2 - 6kg/tree
- Year 3 - 9kg/tree
- Year 4 - 10-12kg/tree
- Year 5 - 10-15kg/tree
Jatropha seeds can produce 60% oil depending on the following factors:
- Yielding capacity of the plant
- Advanced pruning techniques
- Soil moisture level
- Soil nutrient level
- Application of fertilizers
- Stage of ripening
Jatropha is a diminutive tree or hedge plant. Jatropha can grow to a height of about 3 to 5 meters. If the conditions are favorable they can grow to a height of about 8 to 10 meters. The plant has a gray bark and they emit white water latex when it is chopped.
The leaves of the jatropha plant are large and they appear from green to pale green in color. Alternately to the sub opposite side they have 3 to 5 lobes with spiral phyllotaxis. The leaves of the plant are used to treat many illness and inflammation in the tongue for babies.
The flowers are formed lethally i.e. they are formed terminally and individually. Here in jatropha the male and female flowers blossom separately. And the females are little larger than the males. The length of the petiole ranges from 6 - 23 mm and at the leaf axils the inflorescence are formed. In continuous growing conditions an unbalanced pistillate or staminate production of flowers result in a huge number of female flowers.
The shrubs are leafless during winter giving the way to produce fruits. If the conditions like soil moisture and temperature are good and sufficiently high the crop can bear fruit throughout the year. A bunch of at least 10 ovoid fruits can be seen in a single inflorescence. Once the seeds are matured they form a three or bi-valued cocci are formed with fleshy outer layer. The fruits do not have the capacity to drop on their own they provide place for manual harvest without any damage or wastage.
After 2 to 4 months from the date of fertilization the capsule changes from green to yellow in color. This indicates that the seeds are matured. The blackish and thin shelled seeds are lozenge and they appear to be small castor seeds.
Flowering and fruiting habit
During the dry season the tress are very deciduous and they shed their leaves. And in the wet season flowering occurs. The flowering can be seen throughout the year if the region is humid permanently. After 3 months from flowering the seeds are matured. If there is enough rainfall early growth is possible and the nursery plants will bear their fruits after the first rain itself. Pollination takes place by insects and honey bees play a big part in jatropha pollination.
Temperature is the main factor that affects the cultivation of Jatropha. Jatropha species is mainly found to grow in the tropical and monsoon climate. Only a few species is found in the semi arid land. About 95% of the jatropha cultivation is found in the land where the annual rainfall is above 900 mm and annual temperature range of about 20 to 27 degree Celsius.
Below is the climate specification for jatropha plant in different regions in the world.
- In Polar Regions below 10° C.
- They can with stand the temperature 10° to 20° C for four to twelve months.
- In the cold region 10° to 20° C for 1 to 4 months.
- In subtropical for 4 to 11 months it can tolerate 20° C and for the rest of the time it can withstand 10° to 20° C.
- In tropical region 20° C.
Jatropha growing region
Jatropha can be grown in any part of the world that lies in the tropical and subtropical zones and in some areas that have temperate climate. It is also planted in some areas of arid and sub arid regions. The plant can be planted in the region where the annual temperature is 20 degree Celsius. And the regions that have springs of water with good aeration and low nutrient content are also suitable for jatropha plantation
Jatropha can be grown in any part of the world that lies in the tropical and subtropical zones and in some areas that have temperate climate. It is also planted in some areas of arid and sub arid regions. The plant can be planted in the region where the annual temperature is 20 degree Celsius. And the regions that have springs of water with good aeration and low nutrient content are also suitable for jatropha plantation.
Now according to the vegetation classification the jatropha plant is found in the selva, equatorial rain forest, hot tropical belt and also in the savanna regions
Jatropha is grown in five continents. Here is the number of countries that plant the jatropha tree.
- Africa - 48
- Asia - 17
- North America - 24
- South America -14
- Australia -2
Jatropha can be grown all in the regions that fall under the tropical and subtropical zones. It can also be grown in certain regions that fall under the temperate climate and the regions that has arid and sub arid climate. As per the vegetative classification the jatropha is grown in selva also called the equatorial rain forest belt, hot tropical belt, and the savanna regions respectively.
These are the important factors that have to be kept in mind and have to be checked properly before cultivating.
- Minimum altitude - 0 to 500 m
- Annual temperature - 2o to 28 degree Celsius
- Annual rainfall - 300 to 1000 mm
Has the ability to with stand sever heat and light forest. During the cold season the jatropha plant will shed its leaves. Extreme frost will damage the younger plants and black frost will kill the young plants and cause severe damage to the older plants.
Jatropha can grow well in well drained soil as well as poor and saline soil. But in general the plant prefers growing in the alkaline soil. Growing jatropha plant in the poor soil can give good yield by using organic fertilizers.
Proper irrigation is needed during the first two years of plantation. The necessary of water depends on the type of soil and the climate. In that case drip irrigation is the best to keep the soil moist at all times. The plant can survive on dryness by using the humidity present in the air
Timely weeding like four times a year is very important and proper fertilization and manual cultural practices like ploughing and pruning is also necessary. When all these practices are done properly a yield of about 15 to 20 kg of jatropha fruit can be got from a single tree.
Use of fertilizer
Jatropha is a highly disease resistant plant and it is not attacked by any insects. Since the jatropha plant and leaves have poisonous materials within them they act as an effective fence against any pest.
Hence jatropha is adapted all types of soil, planting it in a poor quality soil requires additional amount of calcium, sulfur and magnesium to give a good yield.
To get a good crop density the recommended spacing of about 15 *15 or 25* 25 in one / two rows correspondingly 2m x 1.5m to 3m x 3mm for plantation. Thus in a single hedgerow there will be about 4000 to 6500 plants per km. The amount will be doubled when they are planted in two rows.
To get the maximum sprouting, flowers and seeds jatropha has to develop side shoots. So between 90 to 120 days plants that are 25 cm needs to be cut at the top cleanly to make it produce 8 to 12 side branches.
It is always suggested that to get the facilitated harvesting it is necessary to keep the plant less than 2 m.
Generally pruning is done during the first year when the plant is 40 to 60 cm and it is also done in the second year and third year to give the tree a shape.
Inter-cropping refers to the process of planting more than one crop in the same field.
Depending on the topography, soil quality and climatic condition the jatropha can be combined with other agricultural crops like red and green peppers, tomatoes, herbs, and horticulture. This is done to achieve profit in both the terms like ecological and economical.
Yield of the plant depends on nutrients, water, age and ability to withstand the heat of the plant. The other factors like different methods of farming and harvesting also play a considerable part in the plant yield.
Generally the plant yield ranges from 2t/ha/year to 12.5t/ha/year. But it very difficult to estimate the actual yield since the plant is able to grow on different situations.