An experiment in Gujarat on castorseed has yielded double the output over conventional farming, without significant change in farm practices or additional expense.
It has been conducted over 160 hectares in six districts, using the GCH-7 variety of higher yielding seed, developed by Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University (SDAU), Palanpur. The output per hectare it has reported, from most areas, is an average of four tonnes. Conventional means have not given more than two tonnes per ha.
Castor (Ricinus communis, L.) occupies an important place in the country’s vegetable oil economy. During recent years, castor has emerged as a commercial crop with immense export potential earning valuable foreign exchange. It ideally suits dryland farming in kharif and with limited irrigations in post-monsoon both in traditional and non-traditional areas.
Castor is produced under two contrasting environments in the country viz., irrigated intensive cultivation with high productivity in Gujarat and Rajasthan; and rainfed culture coupled with poor management with very low productivity in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, etc.
Evogene Ltd. has signed an agreement between its wholly owned subsidiary Evofuel Ltd. and Insolo Agroindustrial S.A. for the selection and optimization of Evofuel’s proprietary castor bean varieties in Insolo farms.
The two-year collaboration will examine the sustainability and adaptability of the growing castor varieties in the farms. The two companies will jointly evaluate the economic and agronomic benefits of castor seed varieties in this area, selecting the best varieties and developing the agronomic know-how to integrate the castor seed varieties into Insolo’s production system.
Castor oil manufacturing is similar to that of other oil seeds and hence it can be manufactured by utilizing the existing equipments that are locally available. The castor seeds contain about 48 – 50% oil by weight. After extraction, the oil can be further processed to get a number of derivatives which can be used in various industrial applications. The average seed yields range from 900 – 1000 kg/ha under irrigation.
India is the leading producer of castor seeds followed by China. Fuerst Day Lawson is pioneering in castor oil supply in Europe, with over 40 years’ experience buying directly from the producers of India, China and Brazil.
Castor oil, is not only as a lubricant, but also play a vital role in the polymer industry as it is gives polyamide-nylon 11.
The global market for generation II castor oil derivatives is estimated at about $300 million. Some of the high yielding varieties of castor oil in India are NPH-1 (Aruna), GAUCH-4 and TMVCH.
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A new University of Florida study shows that castor can be grown in Florida again using proper management techniques. Those techniques include spacing plants properly and using harvest aids to defoliate the plant when it matures.
The study says that castor has not been grown in the U.S. since 1972, because the federal government discontinued giving price supports. Growers in the U.S. want to mechanically harvest castor, which is typically hand-picked in other parts of the world, the researchers said. Among other things, the UF/IFAS study evaluated whether the plant would grow too tall for mechanical harvesting machines.
At UF research units in Citra and Jay, scientists tested Brigham and Hale, two types of castor that were bred in an arid part of west Texas near Lubbock in 1970 and 2003, respectively. These cultivars are shorter than castor found in the wild, said Diane Rowland, an associate professor of agronomy at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and Campbell’s faculty adviser.
By spraying the plants with a chemical, Scientists tried to control the growth of them. Even though the crop didn’t respond to the chemicals, it did not grow taller than expected. So it appears these types of castor can be harvested mechanically, she said.
The study came about after a few growers in South Florida who wanted to plant castor asked IFAS administrators for technical advice, Rowland said.
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Here is a brief blog post which helps the castor farmers to understand the do’s and do not’s while cultivating castor. Article excerpts from http://www.ikisan.com
- For proper tilth and good seed bed preparation, plough the land immediately after pre-monsoon showers followed by 2-3 harrowings with blade harrow after rains.
- Farmers are required to purchase the hybrid seed from authorised registered seed agent and ensure its viability
- However, they need not renew seed stock of their improved varieties every year.
- Using certified seed once obtained from authorised agencies/sources, interested farmers can easily meet their requirement of quality seeds and maintain the varieties for atleast 3-4 years without any appreciable deterioration.
- Seed may be treated with Thiram or Bavistin 3g/kg seed to protect from seed borne diseases like Alternaria leaf blight, seedling blight and wilt.
- A plant population of 55,500/ha has been found to be optimum for rainfed castor in all regions
- For achieving required plant stands in dry lands, a seed rate of 10-15 kg/ha is adequate depending on seed size.
- The optimum date of sowing for castor in Andhra Pradesh is first fortnight of June.
- Plough with single seed drill help in placement of seed at appropriate moist zone and ensures better germination and growth.
- As far as possible place the seed in a moist zone 10-12cm below the soil surface to ensure proper moist soil seed contact for sufficiently long period and thereby obtain good germination.
Read more from here – http://www.ikisan.com/Crop%20Specific/Eng/links/ap_castorCrop%20Establishment.shtml
Sugarcane farmers of Andiyur village in Erode district, Tamilnadu, India use castor solution to trap pests that invades the root system of the crops and the plants. Farmers there face a recurring pest problem called white grub that makes it difficult for them to harvest a good yield. Managing the pest proves difficult for the groundnut cultivators as the grub lives under the soil and its life cycle takes a year to complete. One of the farmers then accidentally got the idea of using castor seeds as an effective trap for the insects.
Some five litre mud pots are buried till the neck at different places in the field, pulverised with about 5kg of castor seed and mixed with five litres of water. The solution was kept undisturbed in a plastic drum for 10 days.
On the 11th day two litres of this liquid is poured in all the buried pots and is filled with water till the neck portion. The odour that comes out from the pot attracts the pest towards it.
In addition to white grub this solution is also found effective to control the notorious rhinoceros beetle that infests coconut trees.
In fact, coconut growers are well aware about the rhino beetle and its damage to fronds and small nuts. This method is a good way of controlling it and does not require a big investment.
The mud pot with the solution needs to be buried near the trunk of the tree and attracted by the odour from the pot the insects come towards it and fall into the pot and die.
Collect the dead insects found floating in the pot once every 2 days and keep filling the pot with solution whenever the quantity gets reduced. The solution can be kept for a period of three months,
Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agriculture/fermented-castor-solution-traps-pests-of-sugarcane-groundnut/article4412009.ece
Nova Synthetix, an agricultural biotechnology start-up, based at US,is looking to bring to market a castor-oil plant variety that does not contain a toxin. The company is commercializing a non-toxic castor plant that produces a unique fatty acid in its seed oil which will be used as a high-value chemical feedstock. They are contracting with growers and developing downstream markets for their castor product.
Nova Synthetix, has recently received a $50,000 grant from a private, US based non-profit corporation, named North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
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The latest crop survey report released by the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA)
Here is the link to the article which details the survey results of castor crop carried out in major districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh – http://www.seaofindia.com/images/67/Castor%20Crop%20Survey_2012-13.pdf
Sources say that the lower yield due to inadequate water availability has affected the castor crop prospects in India.
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