10 Jun 2009:
Jatropha ‘Wonder Crop’ Requires Huge Quantities of Water, Report Finds
The oil-rich biofuel crop jatropha, once hailed as a “green gold” because of its ability to grow in arid regions, actually requires more water than other food and biofuel crops
, according to a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
. Jatropha requires five times as much water per unit as corn and sugarcane, and 10 times as much water as sugar beet, the most water-efficient biofuel crop, according to research conducted by the Netherlands-based University of Twente.
In India, the government is subsidizing a program to plant jatropha for biofuels on 27 million acres of “wastelands.”
Native to Central America, and well-adapted to tropics and subtropics, Jatropha Curcas
has generated intense interest because it was believed that it would not displace food crops from land with fertile soil, a drawback of other biofuel crops. As a result, governments and private companies from Latin America to Asia have planted millions of acres of the plant. But, as recently reported in Yale Environment 360
, the results show that just because jatropha can grow in arid places doesn’t mean the plant will produce much oil. To flourish, the plant needs good growing conditions just like any other plant, said study co-author Arjen Hoekstra. “The claim that jatropha doesn’t compete for water and land with food crops is complete nonsense,” Hoekstra said.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
The third annual Yale Environment 360 Video Contest is now accepting entries. Deadline to submit is June 10th. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.