Ashwini Kumar

Energy Plantation Demonstration Project Centre Department of Botany, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur - 302 004. India

Phone : 0091-141-654100 Fax : 0091-141-565905

Email : msku4@hotmail.com


The annual photosynthetic production of biomass is about eight times the worlds total energy use. Indian arid zone covers an area of about 0.3 million sq.km. The state of Rajasthan has total land area of about 3,42,274 Km2 out of which about 96,100 km2 is arid and rest semi arid. 90 million ha of area in India is wasteland around 60 percent of it lies in semi arid region. National remote sensing agency (NRSA) has revealed that during the period 1972-1975 and 1980-82 there has been a loss of 9 million ha of tree cover i.e. an average of 1.3 million ha per year. Out of total forest cover of 64.2 million ha only 36.14 million ha is adequately covered. Thus the effective forest cover is limited to 10.88 percent of geographical area of the country (3,27 million ha). According to National Firewood study committee (1982) the total requirement of fuel wood is around 133 millino tonnes where as annual availability is only about 49 million tonnes per year. Plantation in 15-20 million ha is required to meet this shortage. Total non forest land in India is about 93.69 million ha most of it is uncultivable. Raising energy plantations in the wastelands can provide non-exhaustible non polluting and renewable source of Bio-energy. Biomass energy crops for wastelands were screened and improved. A model system has been developed for the semi arid and arid regions which can be used globally specially in developing countries.


To select, screen and improve the growth and productivity of biomass energy crops for semi arid regions. To develop a model which can be used globally in semi arid regions for wasteland development and biomass production.


Detailed investigations were carried out on the process of wasteland colonization utilizing the

i) hydrocarbon yielding plants, ii) high molecular weight hydrocarbon yielding plants, iii) non edible oil yielding plants, iv) short rotation fast growing energy plants.

(I) Hydrocarbon yielding plants included :

1. Euphorbia lathyris Linn.

2. Euphorbia tirucalli Linn.

3. Euphorbia antisyphilitica Zucc.

4. Euphorbia caducifolia Haines.

5. Euphorbia neeriifolia Linn

6. Pedilanthus tithymaloides Linn/

7. Calotropis procera (Ait.) R. Br.

8. Calotropis gigantea (Linn) R. Br.

(II) High molecular weight hydrocarbon yielding plants :

1. Parthenium argentatum Linn.

(III) Non edible oil yielding plants.

1. Jatropha curcas L

2. Simmondsia chinenesis (Link) Schneid.

(IV) Short rotation energy plants

1. Cassia siamea Lam.

2. Acacia tortitis (Forsk) Hayne


Investigations on several plant species have been ; carried out at our center including Euphorbia lathyris Euphorbia antisyphilitica; Pedilanthus tithymaloides; Calotropis procera; Euphorbia neeriifolia and E. caducifolia and Simmondsia chinensis.

Propagation : In general these plants are easily propagated through cuttings. The optimum period for raising cuttings is June-July and March-April. Regarding environmental variations, March to October period was best suitable for E. antisyphilitica because of linear increase in growth was recorded in the period. During these months, maximum sprouting was observed in Pedilanthus tithymaloides, E. antisyphilitica and E. titucalli.

Edaphic factors : Among different soil types sand was best for the growth of E. lathyris and P. tithymaloides while red loam soil was best for E. antisyphilitica. However, for E. lathyris latex contents were maximum on sand gravel. Red soil was rich in nitrate, sodium potassium and phosphorus pentaoxide. E. antisyphilitica plants were relatively tall in sandy soil and less branched as compared to red soil. Plants grown in red soil branched more instead of increasing much in height.

Fertilizer applications : Application of NPK singly or in various combinations improved growth of all the selected plants in general NP combination gave better growth which was only slightly improved by the addition of K or E. tirucalli. When the best doses of NPK were applied in different combinations like NP, NK, KP and NPK the last combination gave best results in the form of biomass, latex yield sugars and chlorophyll in E. lathyris, and P. tithymaloides. Salinity stress : Salinity stress when applied in the form of irrigation wter the lower concentrations of salinity improved plant growth of E. antisyphilitica, E. lathyris. and P. tithymaloides.

Growth regulators : In the present experiment spray of growth regulators resulted in enhanced fresh and dry weight production. Maximum plant height was observed in GA3, followed by CCC, NAA, 2,4,5-T and IAA. However biocrude synthesis occurred more in auxins, NAA and IAA in E. antisyphilitica. Micropropagation : Plant tissue culture has been successfully employed to achieve rapid clonal propagation of E. lathyris; Pedilanthus tithymaloides and E. antisyphilitica.


European commission EU has suggested alternatives to conventional hydrocarbon fuels such as methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen vegetable oils and estierfied vegetable oils. EU has presented a proposal in the framework EU's ALTENER program for the promotion of alternative fuels. Within this program the EU has the objective of securing a five percent market share of total motor fuel consumption for biofuels of which it is expected that biodiesel will form the major share. EU draft specifications for vegetable oil Methylester Diesel fuel (Biodiesel fuel) have been suggested. Some countries notably Austria and Italy have already produced their own specifications for vegetable oil methylester diesel fuel. Total production in Europe could reach 200,000 tons by 1995. Rapeseed methylester diesel fuels are already sold in Italy but can only be marketed outside retail outlets. A. Government decree fixes a maximum of 1,25,000 tones per year to be exempted from gas oil excise tax chain claiming tax exemption producers have to show that at least 80 percent of the raw vegetable oil used is derived from "set aside" crops.

However for developing countries it is important to develop crop plants that grow on wastelands and are able to produce sufficient biocrude at economic costs. The present papers presented the details of strategy for wasteland colonization using hydrocarbon yielding plants which could be employed for several developing countries (6).


The financial support received from the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Government of India, New Delhi, advice of Prof. Dr. K._H. Neumann, Institute of plant nutrition, section plant tissue culture Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, Germany is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are due to Dr. J. Imani for the technical finish of this Poster.


F. Statt, Development of biodiesel activity France, Biomass for energy and Industry. Eds. Kopetz H. et al 1998, 112-115.

D.O. hall and F. Rosillo-Calle. The role of bioenergy in developing countries. Biomass for energy and industry. Eds. Kopetz et al. 1998, 52-55.

A. Kumar, Laticifers as potential bioremedients for wasteland restoration. J. Environment and Pollution 1994, 1:101-104.

A. Kumar and S. Roy, Biomass resources of semi-arid regions : Production and improvement of wood energy sources. Biomass for energy and environment. Eds. Chartier, P. et al. 1996, 721-724.

A. Kumar S. Johari and S. Roy, Production and improvement of bioenergy sources. J. Indian Bot. Soc. 1995, 74A : 233-244.

A. Kumar, Biomass energy crops of semi-arid regions of India and their energy potential. Biomass for energy and Industry. Eds. Kopetz, H. et al. 1998, 345-348.