JOil shows yield improvements from large jatropha field trials
JOil Pte. Ltd., a scientific bioenergy crop developer of a new generation of jatropha, has achieved an average seed yield of 3.53 metric tons per hectare in the third year of its large-scale India field trials. Unpruned, the yield will be 4.42 metric tons per hectare. These results place JOil’s elite jatropha varieties on track to deliver a Year 4 projected yield of more than 4.5 metric tons per hectare. This puts JOil seedlings within reach of the target yield of 5 metric tons per hectare at which point large-scale commercial viability is achieved.
The trials were conducted on JO S1 and JO S2, two open-pollinated JOil-developed jatropha varieties shown to have high uniformity and productivity over three generations. JOil trials in India are being conducted across sites located in southern part of Tamil Nadu, India. Three of the sites are spread within 60 kilometers (km) of Coimbatore and one site in Madurai which is 180 km from Coimbatore totalling 35.65 acres. All the sites are located at altitudes ranging from 300 to 400 (meters) Mean Sea Level with annual average rainfall of 350 to 650 millimeters and average temperatures between 20 to 35 degrees Celsius.
According to JOil’s Chief Technoloy Officer, Srinivasan Ramachandran, the increase in yield of the plants in the third year would have been greater than 4.2 metric tons per hectare with optimized spacing and without pruning. However, in the actual JOil field trials, rigorous pruning was done on the plants uniformly across locations in the third year to maintain the canopy in shape, resulting in a yield of 3.53 metric tons per hectare.
“The results of the India field trials take jatropha closer to commercial viability, which we believe is within two years from now, once a yield of five metric tons of seeds per hectare is achieved,” Srinivasan said. “Above all, this new progress continues to signal the promise that jatropha can fulfill under these conditions away from its earlier disappointments.”
Srinivasan added, “We are very rigorous in our methodology. Given the history of jatropha and its unfulfilled promise in the mid-2000s, we have been very conservative in our approach so as to ensure yields are based on realistic growing conditions. JOil aims to be the company that brings jatropha to the market and we will be disclosing our data, methodology and site management protocols in a peer reviewed publication. This will offer transparency to our results. Jatropha is a sustainable and viable source of first- and second-generation feedstock, and even commercial biofuels for airlines and motor transport. With strong science, JOil is paving the way for a sustainable and commercially viable energy solution.”
JOil will expand its field trial program for its elite varieties across sites in Africa and South East Asia. A Memorandum of Understanding with Agritech Faso SA, an alternative energy grower and processer of jatropha in West Africa, will also kick start the development of 250,000 hectares of jatropha plantations intercropped with food crops using JOil’s elite, high-yielding jatropha varieties. JOil also has a pipeline of varieties which are in advanced stages of field trials. These are slated to be available for commercial cultivation in 2014-‘15.