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Satish Lele

Large Scale Cultivation of Jatropha Curcas

Land preparation activities cover land clearing, marking and preparing pits. The land should be cleared of bushes, especially around the land to be cultivated. Marking is done by embedding sticks (bamboo or wood) in accordance to planting distance anticipated. Planting alternatives with planting distance and plant population are as follows.

  1.    3 m 3 m (population 1,100 plants / hectare)
  2.    2 m 3 m (population 1,600 plants / hectare)
  3.    2 m 2 m (population 2,500 plants / hectare - not recommended)
  4. 1.5 m 2 m (population 3,300 plants / hectare - not recommended)

Pits of standard size, are dug initially, based on the slope of land, availability of water and quality of soil. Pits of 300 mm long, 300 mm wide and 300 mm deep are dug in square formation. The distance between the two pits should be 2 or 3 meters. A layer of dry leaves is spread at the bottom of the pit, up to about 50 mm and insecticide is sprayed on the layer.
Factors to consider in Managing Large Scale Plantations

    Size of Manageable Plantation
  1. 10,000 Hectares (100 square Kilometers): This is a large plantation.
  2.   5,000 Hectares ( 50 Square Kilometers): This is a medium plantation.
  3.   2,500 Hectares ( 25 square Kilometers):  This is a manageable plantation.
  4.   1,000 Hectares ( 10 square Kilometers):  This is a small plantation.
Divide large plantations into segments of 2,500 hectares.
    2,500 Hectare Plantation:
  1. Boundary of Area: The plot can be square, elliptical, rectangular or zigzag in shape. The entire area can be in patches of number of plots spread over hundreds of kilometers. These need to be integrated by roads and other services like water and electric power supply, as well as housing and transport. The boundary should be fenced before starting any activity. Plot may be

    1. Square, circular or elliptical - These are easier to manage as the total distance is smaller.
    2. Rectangular - This type of area requires longer roads. Roads are expensive compared to cost of plantation.
    3. Irregular - Land is difficult to map initially.
    4. Sloping - These soils are better for water drainage and irrigation.
    5. Rocky Patches - These are useful for housing / storage sheds.
  2. Contours of Area: The area may not be flat land and can have a number of hills or even mountains. Entire area should be mapped, and all elevations should be mentioned on map. Areas having similar contours should be considered as one unit for plantation purposes.

    1. Mapping to be done: Careful mapping is required of the entire area. This should show elevations on the map.

    2. Some leveling required: Generally the soil is not leveled smooth, but some small heaps are leveled to the contour elevations.

    3. Make water channels: If there are irregular water channels, then these are diverted to make smooth flow of water to the reservoirs.

    4. Create localized water bodies: Small earthen dams are put up to hold water at suitable locations, so that water will accumulate there and then percolate in the soil.

    5. Difficult to use machines on sloping lands: If the land rises steeply, as in case of hillocks, it will be difficult to use heavy machinery for plantation.

  3. Water Bodies: There can be water bodies like rivers, channels or reservoirs inside the boundary area. These should be used for irrigation purposes. Additional reservoirs can be created for holding the water in the plantation area.

    1. Existing Rivers: Use water from such ready water sources. These rivers may flow throughout the year or only during monsoon.

    2. Quality of water: Water should not contain lot of salts of Calcium and Magnesium.

    3. Create Ponds / Percolation Tanks: These can be created in the flow of rivers which flow only during monsoon.

    4. Sink Tube Wells: Deep tube wells can be dug around such ponds, to irrigate the land in dry seasons.

    5. Sprinkling Network: This should be set up to irrigate the land. Sprinklers are located at vantage points.

    6. Pumps and Pumping Cost: Sufficient number of pumps must be installed on the wells to supply water to main sprinkler line. The pumping costs should be kept to minimum.

  4. Clearing the Area: The land is not ploughed. Only pits are dug as per required matrix.

    1. Large Trees: Leave large trees as they are and do not cut these.

    2. Small Bushes: Cut these 50 mm above the ground. These are left there for mulching or can be used as firewood.

    3. Farm Yard Manure: Collect all Farm Yard Manure and use Farm Yard Manure as manure for plantation.

    4. Cut Thorny Bushes: Burn thorny bushes that are cut.

    5. Organic system: Do not disturb the existing organic system, of the soil.

  5. Internal Roads: A number of internal roads are laid out in the plantation. Generally one row and column is not planted after every 10 rows and 10 columns. This forms a square grid of roads every 20 or 30 meters. These mud roads can not be used by heavy equipment during rains and only light tractors and trailers can run on these roads. These are used during plantation, maintenance and during harvesting. Top surface of the road should be decided based on rainfall in that area.

    1. Use existing roads as they exist, if they are straight. Remove sharp bends on steep hills.

    2. Main road should be laid out every kilometer. This should be for heavy traffic. Trucks and heavy equipment will ply on these.

    3. Feeder roads: Create feeder roads every 200 meters. This can be done by leaving one line of plantation blank. These should be suitable for tractors, trailers.

    4. Should not be steep: The roads should rise gradually at an average angle of 3 degrees.

    5. Support sheds: These should be set up along the roads, for storage of farm equipment, produced material, as well as shelter for workers.

    6. Water channels should be away from the roads, so that the road will not get washed away during heavy rain.

  6. Housing, food, water, electricity for labor: A large contingent of labor is required during plantation work. Later smaller labor force is required for pruning and harvesting activities. This essential labor should be located at convenient place near the plantation, to work in fields.

    1. Housing for Workers: This should be close to main road for easy transport of labor during plantation activity. Less labor is required in later years.

    2. Relocatable Houses: These are preferable as the plantation activity keeps on shifting from place to place.

    3. Preferably on rocky land: Rocky land can not be used for plantation. Hence this area can be used for housing. Rocky land can have strong foundation on rocky soil.

    4. Water for Drinking and Sanitation: Water for Drinking and Sanitation can be supplied through tube wells. The effluent water can be used for irrigation after proper treatment.

    5. Disposal of Effluent: This should be done close to the point where water is used. The treated effluent should not join the main water source. treated effluent should be used directly for irrigation.

    6. Food Supply for the Workers: Food can be supplied through mobile kitchens.

    7. Mobile Electric Supply: These units should be installed for supply of electric power to housing complex, pumps, lighting etc.

  7. Transport of Labor and Goods: A large transport fleet is required for these activities. Initially a lot of vehicles are required to move the labor and later vehicles are required to move the Jatropha seeds.

    1. Preferably in Trucks: The farm produce is generally transported in trucks.

    2. Labor from Camps to Farm: Labor is transported in Buses. In case of emergency, labor can be transported in trucks.

    3. Distributed Storage Bins: These should be located for collection of seeds during harvesting. These can be emptied in trucks for transport to factories.

    4. Central Collection System: A godown for collection and storage of seeds should be set up for an area of 2,500 hectares.

    5. Managers, Supervisors: They should control activities for every 2,500 hectares.

  8. Nursery and Plantation: Nursery is set up in the same place as plantation. Generally ratio of nursery area to plantation area is 1:100. If the nursery is developed in soil bed, then the soil is made fertile by adding cow dung or some such manure. A lot of water is required (50 m3 per acre of nursery per month for 3 months) and for this there should be source of water nearby. Facilities for pumping and delivery of water need to be created. Arrangements of water sprinkler systems should be planed for plantation area.

    1. One for every 2,500 hectares: There should be a nursery for the area of 2,500 hectares. If the location has smaller area, and nursery is away from other adjoining areas, separate nurseries can be set up for each area.

    2. Jatropha seeds required for plantation in 2,500 hectares will be around 15 tons.

    3. Organic fertilizer required for plantation in 2,500 hectares will be 15 tons.

    4. Water requirement for nursery will be 25,000 cubic meters per month for 3 months.

    1. Nursery Manpower: Man hours per hectare of Plantation

    2. Mixing of Manure / Soil: 50

    3. Sowing of seeds: 10

    4. Nursery Raising: 12

    5. Transport of plants: 3

    6. Total: (75)

      Man hours per hectare of Plantation
    1. Digging of Pits: 250

    2. Planting: 200

    3. Misc: 10

    4. Total: (460)

    Digging and Planting manpower time can be reduced by using Post Hole Diggers attached to tractors.
  9. Pruning and Maintenance: Pruning is generally done manually as a branch should be cut at the end of hardy area. This is done by hand cutters or large knives for the first 2 to 3 years. Maintenance work such as weeding and applying of fertilizer is done for the first 2 to 3 years.

  10. Harvesting: This is generally done manually, as all the fruits are not ready for harvesting at the same time. However, if these are not harvested when fruits are golden yellow, these fruits dry on bush and then these fruits can be harvested mechanically. In this process, harvesting period gets delayed by 1 or 2 months.

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