Sunday, 17 April 2011

Grow Jatropha: Guerrilla Gardeners Grow Jatropha in The Dutch Caribbean

This is a great video showing how they grow Jatropha Dutch Caribbean Style! The main problem trying to grow jatropha in the Caribbean seems to be the iguana's eating the leaves; perhaps trying to grow the toxic veriety of Jatropha Curacus Lin would prevent jatropha plant molestation by Iguana's!

Growing Jatropha at Banda Abou Curacao in the Dutch Antilles looks like alot of fun however I would not class this as growing a jatropha plantation, more like a guerrilla gardening movement :)

Grow Jatropha: Indian Project To Grow Jatropha Curcas in Chhattisgarh

Here is an Indian project to grow Jatropha Curcas Lin to produce a biofuel crop most plantations who grow jatropha for biodiesel production use a monoculture. In this case if the Indian's were to grow Jatropha intercropped with Gensing they would have an additional income in addition to growing jatropha for biofuel.

The Jatropha growing on the Sandarkera plantation in India looks healthy with each jatropha plant easily having 2.5 square meters in which to grow. Both Genging and Watermelon could grow in between these jatropha rows to create food security and income as well as biodiesel on this jatropha plantation in India.

There is a funny bit where animals are walking where the jatropha is growing and it is captioned with "Jatropha Is No Longer Effective Hedge" Jatropha plants need to be planted about 30cm away from each other so that they become a hedge of course animals will walk through the plantation.

In Africa there is some debate as to whether jatropha plants should grow in 4 meter square patches to allow for elephant migration through the jatropha growing on the plantation without damage.

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha in Central Vietnam Quang Tri Province

Here you can see jatropha being grown in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam, it is quite funny watching the American "Investor" who can't say Jatropha - When you see the Jatropha Plantation which is sandy soil in terraces the plants are maybe one to two months old and struggling.

The video ends on more mature jatropha trees grown for maybe four years the straggly jatropha plants grown on the sandy terraces will be a long way from producing enough jatropha seeds to make biodiesel from the crude jatropha oil.

Cambodia and Vietnam are both good places to grow jatropha because of the soil conditions you can see in the video and the humid climate. Growing Jatropha with Palm Tree's on the terraces in the video would provide the jatropha with the shade that it likes to grow in.

You can see the young Jatropha plants growing in the video look wilted from too much sun and growth is poor. Jatropha should always be grown in the shade for best results. Growing stronger plants produces seeds higher in oil content. The more crude jatropha oil in the seeds the more biofuel you can make from the Jatropha you grow!

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha In Kenya Is Supportted By Locals

These Villagers in Kenya are showing support for growing jatropha as a biofuel feedstock in Africa. They must have grown some jatropha at some point because they wave lots of it about.

The video does not show any actual plants growing and I have no idea what the Kenyan man at the end of the video is saying about growing jatropha, I wish him well with his Jatropha plantation in Kenya! I am sure it would be fun to teach this jatropha farmer and his branch waving friends how to make biodiesel from jatropha oil. If the Kenyan people were as enthusiastic about pressing the seeds as they are about waving the branches I am sure their jatropha farmers will have very successful biofuel plantations.

Grow Jatropha: Extraction of Crude Jatropha Oil By Hand With Nut Press

The main reason to grow Jatropha Curacus Lin is for the physic nut sometimes called the Barbados Nut because it produces a green oil that is suitable for use in diesel engines and Crude Jatropha Oil can be further refined into Bio Aviation fuel. Crude Jatropha Oil can be extracted from the jatropha seed using a simple nut press like this. it is the same sort of worm gear nut press that can be used to extract oil for biofuel from sunflower seeds or any other biofuel feedstock crop. Extraction oil from seeds is not a new idea!

Using a simple nut press to extract crude jatropha oil is very easy for a local community to do in this way and does not require expensive and heavy machinery to extract the crude jatropha oil from the jatropha seed. Seed husks which still contain residual jatropha oil are a very rich fertilizer and can be used to fertilize the jatropha plantation after the harvest.

Once the crude jatropha oil has been extracted using the nut press it would be very easy for the community to refine the jatropha oil into a methyl ester biodiesel or use the jatropha oil for cooking without further refining, this would make the carbon footprint of the jatropha plantation lower as sustainable energy becomes more available to the community. 

Grow Jatropha: Mechanical Press Extraction of Crude Jatropha Oil & Seedcake

This Video shows an amazing machine extracting the Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha seed. The seedcake comes out in need pellets which can be burnt as fuel or used as fertilizer. If sterilised by heat to remove toxins the Jatropha seedcake can be fed to livestock and fish as food.

The Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) can then be refined into Jatropha Methly Ester suitable for use as Biodiesel which is a process anyone can do at home. This is the most advanced form of machine I have seen for the extraction of crude jatropha oil from the seedcake produced by the Jatropha Plant.

Growing Jatropha for biofuel in Africa is still very much an emerging market. The level of Jatropha nut press is very, basic and the facilities and knowledge that the local people need to extract the crude jatropha oil from the seed cake and then refine the crude jatropha oil into Jatropha Methyl Ester suitable for sustainable use in 4x4's is not present currently in Africa.

To grow jatropha holistically the by products of growing jatropha for bio diesel, like the jatropha seedcake need to be seen as as important and useful to the local community that is producing the crop and the local community need the education to be able to get the most benefit from growing jatropha so the plant is used holistically.

If the community are growing Jatropha just for biodiesel they should be able to produce the biodiesel from the crude jatropha oil themselves and be able to prepare jatropha seed cake as briquettes to replace wood in fires or even be able to sterilise the jatropha seed cake so that it can be used to feed community fish or livestock projects

Grow Jatropha: Harvesting Jatropha Plantation Sustainability Vs Machinery

This Video Shows harvesting of Jatropha Curacus Lin on a Monoculture Bio Fuel Plantation using a Korvan Model 9000 machine. Growing and harvesting a Jatropha plantation like this on an industrial scale with machinery and it may be financialy more sensible to grow jatropha and harvest it more traditionaly. This will produce biofuel that is more sustainable as the carbon emmisions chain taken to produce the fuel will be shorter and therefore better for the environment.

This method of harvesting jatropha grown on a monoculture plantation is not as environmentally friendly as harvesting the jatropha by hand. Once the jatropha seed husks have turned black they fall to the ground where they can easily be picked up and brought to trailers at the end of the rows.

Harvesting Jatropha in this way creates labour for local people and the extra cash from growing jatropha with medicinal plants such as Aloe Vera are better economically for the plantation as the value of an Aloe Crop is worth twice as much as the Jatropha Crop in the first four to 5 years!

Grow Jatropha: Growing Jatropha Biodiesel Plantation in Lower Volta Ghana

Growing Jatropha as a Bio Fuel feedstock is a good idea in Africa - This Video shows Jatropha Growing as a Monoculture plantation in Lower Volta, Ghana.

Many people in Africa have tried to grow Jatropha for various biofuel projects which are less economically viable when compared to growing jatropha plants intercropped with medicinal plants such as gensing. The

Jatropha plants are being grown in rows so they can be easily harvested, from the hight and foliage the Jatropha plants look to be 12 to 18 months old. The sole aim of a monocultrue plantation is to grow jatropha as a feedstock for biofuels like bio diesel - Jatropha Methel Ester or Bio Aviation Fuel -Bio SPK, Synthetic Parafinic Kerosene.

A plantation has to grow a large amount of Jatropha in order to produce a sustainable biofuel production for every 3 kilos of Jatropha seed grown produce one litre of oil when crushed to produce the Crude Jatropha Oil. The main reason why this Jatropha is being grown on this plantation in Ghana.  

This book explains how to make your own bio diesel the process can be used with Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha plants grown in the video or with waste vegetable oil from a restaurant.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Questions To Ask Before Investing in Jatropha Plantations For Bio Diesel Production

Investing in a Jatropha plantation seems to be a bit of a trendy thing right now, I have seen quite a few glossy brochures and flash websites as well as a number of failed projects some of the You Tube comments on this video about Jatropha Plantations are interesting background for anyone thinking about and investment in a Jatropha Plantation.

Why Are You Investing Into A Monoculture Jatropha Plantation? 

If you are thinking in investing in a monoculture plantation of Jatropha solely for biofuel feedstock rather than a polyculture plantation which takes care of food and fuel security there may not be any carbon credits and only sustainable Jatropha based fuel can be sold into the aviation industry.

So a good question to ask the sales person selling an investment into Jatropha for biofuel is why have they decided to grow a monoculture Jatropha plantation?

Is The Cost Of Replanting Trees In The Revenue Model For The Jatropha Plantation Investment?

The economic life of Jatropha Curacus Lin is about 25 to 35 years some companies are offering 99 year leases, this would mean that the Jatropha plants would have to be replaced two or three times during the life of the investment into the Jatropha plantation.

To use Jatropha Curacus Lin as a sustainable feedstock to produce bio fuels either biodiesel or bio synthetic parafinic kerosene (Bio SPK) for aviation fuel each Jatropha tree needs 2.5m of space in order to grow to the size where it can produce 9Kg of seed.

9 Kg of Jatropha seed produces 3 litres of Crude Jatropha Oil CJO about 4000 litres per hectare is reasonable from 4 year old Jatropha Curacus plants. These are realistic figures for a monoculture plantation most of the companies I have seen who want you to invest in Jatropha as a green alternative investment are focused more on the Jatropha Oil situation rather than the commercial and environmental advantages for polyculture jatropha plantations.

If you are thinking of investing in Jatropha in Africa intercropping is vital to local food security it is the same local people that will be harvesting your investment, so you want them to be able to eat and Jatropha is inedible 25 Hectares of Monoculture Jatropha plantation can make 100,000 litres of Bio Fuel however 25 Hectares of Polyculture plantation can feed local people and boost the economy being more beneficial for the local people and the investor.

Refining Crude Jatropha Oil into Jatropha Methl Ester is a process that can be easily done by anyone familiar with the basic transesterfication process used to make bio diesel however further refining the crude jatropha oil into Bio SPK for Jatropha based Bio aviation fuel requires a much more complicated cracking process in which only 15% of the Crude Jatropha Oil can be converted into Bio SPK aviation fuel.

Investing in clean technology is a good thing we could all destroy less of the planet and reduce global warming by growing and using biofuels instead of carbon based petro chemicals to power our cars and planes, the most important side of the Jatropha plantation should be the investment into the agriculture and food security of the local people producing the Jatropha which is being sold to provide you with the return on your investment.

Intercropping Ginseng With Jatropha For Commercial Polyculture Plantations In India

Jatropha Plantations are grown on many different continents and are the second generation of Bio fuel feedstocks, intercropping Jatropha in Africa with Aloe Vera provides a great income which can sustain the Jatropha Plantation as a commercial enterprise through the first four or five years before the Jatropha plants reach maturety and are capable of producing sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Jatropha has been grown in India for many years and is found on the railway banks as well as being grown on plantations for research into biofuels.

In India Ginseng is the ideal plant to introduce as part of a polyculture Jatropha Plantation because of its value and cultural relevence through out Asia. Genseng is a stout shrub that reaches a height of 5 to 6 feet very much like the tomato which belongs to the same family of plants. Tomato's are also suitable for intercropping with Jatropha in a polyculture plantation.

Genseng has yellow flowers and red fruit, though its fruit is berry-like in size and shape. Ashwagandha grows prolifically in India,Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is commercially cultivated in Madhya Pradesh the existing cultivation and cultural significance of the plant make it an ideal agricultural business to combine with a Jatropha Plantation for sustainable bio fuel feedstock.

Cultivation of Genseng (Withania Somnifera) as Polyculture with Jatropha (Jatropha Curacus Lin)

Genseng has been extensively domesticated from the wild form. In India there are at least five different cultivars which have been developed for increased root size and adaptation to different regional climates. The Genseng crop is mainly grown on residual land of exactly the same type that Jatropha Curacus thrives in. 
No fertilizers need be applied to Jatropha or Genseng and the plants do not need irrigation, water from rain is sufficient.

Genseng is considered an adaptogen which is an herb that works to normalize physiological function, working on the HPA axis and the neuroendocrine system.

Commercial Produce of Genseng and Jatropha Polyculture Plantations

The parts of the plant that are used for traditional medicines are the roots and leaves, which have been traditionally used for the Ayurvedic system as aphrodisiacs, diuretics as well as for treating memory loss.
In Ayurveda, the fresh roots are boiled in milk, prior to drying, in order to remove undesirable constituents. The berries are also used as a substitute for rennet, to coagulate milk in cheese making.

The crop is ready in six months and harvesting starts in January continuing till the end of March.An average yield is between 400 and 500 Kg of root and 50 Kg of seeds per hectare of Genseng intercropped with Jatropa Curacus Lin.

Because leaves have medicinal properties it might be profitable to produce tincture localy and sell this or combine it with the glycerine by product of refining crude Jatropha oil into Jatropha Methyl Ester to make soap, boosting the local economy with the trade products that can be sold by local people at local markets.

2 oz liquid extract costs about $15 USD
1 oz of root cost $2 USD
10 Kg of root powder cost $150 USD
100 seeds cost $1.50

When intercropping Genseng and Jatropha Curacus about 200 Kg of Genseng root and 20 Kg of Genseng seeds are produced by one hectare.

We assume that there are 1300 Genseng seeds in 1 Kg and 1600 seeds in 1 Kg of Jatropha seeds. In harvesting 200 kg of  Genseng root you also have 20 Kg of Genseng leaves.

You use 5 Kg of leaves to produce one Kg of tincture in the same way the husks from the Jatropha seeds can be used as fertilizer or sold at local prices. This is around $4000 USD profit on Genseng root, seeds and tincture

This extra income is available within 6 months of being planted as part of a polyculture Jatropha plantation the Genseng makes the plantation financially sustainable within 6 months whilst it will take the Jatropha 4 years to establish itself to the point where it will produce $4000 worth of Crude Jatropha Oil.

Both the price of Medicinal Herbs like Genseng and the price of second generation Bio Fuel Feedstocks such as Jatropha are steadily rising by about 20% a year.

Growing Jatropha As A Polyculture Commercial Plantation With Aloe Vera

 Growing Jatropha as a monoculture for bio fuels in marginal land has been attempted in various areas of the world and undoubtedly Jatropha Plantations will become more popular as the demand for green oil fuels including Bio SPK Aviation Fuel increases.

I have been involved with many conversations with Agronomists over planting widths for Jatropha Hedgerows or the amount of space needed to harvest plants, I feel that planting 1300 Jatropha Trees per Hectare about is a good number.

Intercropping Jatropha by growing it with Palm Tree's provides shade which the Jatropha likes as well as Coconuts in about 4 years by which time Jatropha Tree's themselves can be upto 3 meters high as you can see.

When designing a Jatropha Plantation for Bio Aviation Fuel production I want to include benificial plants to intercrop with the Jatropha I am growing, tobacco is not an ethical cash crop to grow for the local community whereas growing plants like Watermelons, Tomato Plants, Peppers, Cucumber, Legumes, Basil, Chard, Lettuce and more importantly in terms of growing sustainable cash crops intercroped with Jatropha, Spices.

Whilst looking at the spice market with a wide variety of herbs and spices which can be intercroped with Jatropha and sold for cash I noticed that there was also a healthy market for growing medicinal plants alongside the Jatropha as an alternative to monoculture plantation.

Aloe Vera is an example that would easily work intercropped with Jatropha with a good commercial value being added to the plantation by choosing a Jatropha / Aloe Vera polyculture with a few Palm or Coconut trees' intercropped for shade.

Intercropping Jatropha with Aloe Vera is a great idea for Jatropha Plantations in Africa because of the sandy loany soil conditions, ideally kept ideally slightly acidic. The soil should be supplied supplement in the form of ammonium nitrate every year Aloe Vera is not a seed crop so growing it can be difficult without experienced labour on the plantation.

Cultivation of Aloe Vera to Intercrop With Jatropha

Aloe Vera can be cultivated on any soil for 'dry land management' and is generally propagated by root suckers. Carefully digging out without damaging the parent plant and planting it in the main field. It can also be propagated through rhizome cuttings. By digging out the rhizomes after the harvest of the crop and making them into 5-6 cm length cuttings with a minimum of 2-3 nodes on them.

Then they are rooted in specially prepared containers or sand beds. The Aloe Vera plant is ready for transplanting after the appearance of the first sprouts.

The plants are set spaced out by 31 inches in rows and between the rows. At that rate, about 12,500 plants per hectare. An 8-12 inch aloe pop would take one and a half to two years to mature, in a year's time the plants would develop bright yellow flowers, the leaves are 1 to 2 feet long  and last for several years.

The crop can be harvested 4 times a year. At the rate of 3 leaves cut from each plant, about 12 leaves are the harvest per plant per year. On an average, the yield per hectare annually is approximately 150,000 kg. The leaves cut off close to the plant are placed immediately, with the cut end downwards, in a V-shaped wooden trough of about 4 feet long and 12 to 18 inches deep. It then takes about 15 minutes to cut leaves enough to fill a trough.

Aloe Vera can cost up to $3 for 1 liter of 99.7% pure juice

In our scenario you cultivate the equivalent of one acre of Aloe Vera in intercropping with one hectare of Jatropha. So that means that in a field of one hectare of Jatropha you also plant 12,500 Aloe Vera plants each plant produces 12 kg of leaves every year.

The leaves of Aloe Vera produce about the same produce to weight ration as Jatroha about 3 kg of Aloe Vera leaves give 1 liter of high quality Aloe Vera juice in the same way as 3kg of Jatropha seeds will produce 1 litre of Crude Jatropha Oil when pressed.
If the annual harvest 12,000kg of seed in 1 hectare of Jatropha, Crude Jatropha Oil production would be near 4,000 litres of which only 15% of the crude Jatropha Oil could be refined into Bio SPK for Aviation use.
Income From Jatropha Plantation Intercropped With Aloe Vera
For our theoretical Polyculture Plantation of Aloe Vera and Jatropha we will fix the farm gate price of 1 liter of Aloe Vera at $0.5 USD. 12,500 Plants producing 12kg of leaves produces 50,000 litres of 99.7% pure Aloe Vera Juice at $0.5 USD per litre. This is an income of $25,000 USD per Hectare.

Estimates for how many seeds a mature Jatropha tree produces vary, I feel 9kg from a 4 year old tree is reasonable, the better soil conditions and more nutrients, the more seed is produced and the more Crude Jatropha Oil can be extracted.

In this light the Aloe Vera is more profitable than the Crude Jatropha Oil produced by pressing the Jatropha seeds even selling the by products of producing Crude Jatropha Oil from the Jatropha seeds like the seed cake which can be used as fertiliser or animal feed does not make the Jatropha more commercially viable in the plantation when compared to the quantity and value of the Aloe Vera produced by the plantation.

The demand for the Crude Jatropha Oil produced from the Jatropha seed is what will see the profitability from Jatropha plantations in the next 10 -15 years when aviation travel becomes more expensive and cleaner forms of fuel need to be found to sustain the industry, so the produce of the Jatropha when fully refined will in time become more valuable than the produce of the Aloe Vera.

By moving away from the ideas of Jatropha in monoculture plantations a viable commercial and socialy responsible alternative can be found by intercroping Jatropha with medicinal herbs such as Aloe Vera and Indian Ginsing as well as providing food like watermelons.

Intercroping Jatropha with Palm or Coconut tree's is benificial for the Jatropha's environment this is the symbiosis intercroping provides when the Jatropha grows with the Palm, the Palm shades the Jatropha and the Jatropha renitrogenises the soil giving the Palm nutrients to grow.

The more we consider intercroping as an alternative to monoculture and the more thought that is put into the design of a Jatropha plantation the better it will function as a commercially and social ecosystem.

Jatropha Plantations cannot solve the entire worlds need for bio aviation fuel however in time the production of Bio Fuels from sustainable feed stocks such as Jatropha will increase as the world moves towards cleaner, greener fuels, however Jatropha Plantations as monoculture solely for the production of biofuel are not as sound as a well thought out polyculture providing, food and fuel security.

I hope this gives anyone interested in growing Jatropha some ideas as to how they can improve on all the monoculture plantations as I feel the monocultureists are motivated more by Crude Jatropha Oil production rather than sustainability and community food / fuel security.