Innovative Cultivation: Jhatropha

Jhatropha carcass is an oil yielding plant with vast industrial potential as bio-diesel. Truly the most practical way to achieve prosperity in the rural sector is by cultivation of jhatropha on lands that are underused or unsuitable for conventional agriculture. The cultivation and subsequent cropping of the Jhatropha Curcas, which is the end product, expected from this plant as against woody biomass expected from agro-forestry crops. BENEFITS: Jhatropha plantations ensure proper utilization of our countries resources which are arable land, agro climate and manpower which is grossly underused and underdeveloped. Jhatropha crop one established can withstand any climatic conditions The plantation technology is simple and easy to follow steps that spans over a few years. Suitable to convert millions of hectares of wastelands into cultivable lands. This technology is cost effective and can be easily implemented with least investment. Cattle do not browse this plant so is harm free from animals. Can be grown in rain fed conditions Once established it can give a yield upto 40-50 years Immense source for creating self-employment by taking up the cultivation of the Jhatropha Caurcas. Self employment on a large scale can be used as an effective means for poverty alleviation.

PLANTING:  Single row hedge plantation around boundaries of agricultural fields, the spacing of which should be 2M. * 2M. For double row hedge plantation around agricultural fields the spacing of which should be 3M * 3M and each row and distance between the two rows should be 1 M. and plantation done in a staggered manner. The size of the planting pit should not be less than .45m cube (1.5’* 1.5*1.5). Jhatropha cultivation should not be taken up as a commercial crop wherever it is not possible to dig pits of 0.45m cube i.e. where soil depth is less than .45m. While refilling the pits, stones and boulders should be removed and the topsoil scraped and mixed with about 0.5 kg. Single super phosphate should be added. Fertilizer application @ 250 gms per plant having an N.P.K. (15:15:15) should be repeated at the start of the rainy season every year from the 2nd year of cultivation and onwards which should be completed before May. 

SEED SOWING OR PLANTING TIME: As soon as the rain starts 3 seeds should be sown per pit. Singling should be done at the end of august and one healthy plant should be retained and allowed to grow up to next April when it will be ready for cutting back operation. In the month of May, the plant should be cut back with a sharp cutter at the height of about 0.30m to 0.45m from ground level. Plant should be allowed to grow and put on side branches up to April 2nd year. In the month of May 2nd year each side branch should be pruned by cutting 2/3 rd top portion and retaining 1/3rd of the branch on the plant. This will induce bush formation in an umbrella pattern rather than inducing medium tree like vertical woody growth. The size and shape of the tree so obtained after careful cutting back in the first and pruning in the second year shall felicitate proper seed production and convenience of hand picking of seed.

METHOD OF PLANTING: 3 seeds of Jhatropha should be sown in each pit. The end of august only on plant should retain which is found to be most vigorous.
Direct seed sowing done at the beginning of the rainy season helps in healthy growing of the tap root.

IST YEAR: Planting and cutting back, no seed production expected. 
2ND YEAR: Maintenance, protection and pruning, no seed production expected. 
3RD YEAR: Period allowed for establishment and growth of plant. No seed production expected. 
4TH YEAR: Plant expected to produce seed. 
5TH YEAR: The seed production starts increases.

Yield of air dried seed is about 300-400 kg per acre or 700-1000 kg per hectare on rain fed agricultural lands. Introduction of Jhatropha will go a long way in production of raw material for industries. The Jhatropha oil is environmentally safe, cost effective renewable source of non-conventional energy and a promising substitute for diesel, kerosene and other fuel oils.

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