| Botanical Aspects |

| Varieties of Jute | | Ecology | | Growing Regions | | Planting |
| Harvesting | | Retting | | Fibre Extraction | | Fibre Quality | | Grading |


Jute is a natural fibre with numerous environmental advantages. It is an annually renewable resource with a high biomass production per unit land area, and jute products being biodegradable decompose in the soil at the end of product life-cycle. Towards global warming, a concern of much importance in the present world, while the synthetic materials are being considered as the root of many problems, the natural fibre products are proven to be absolutely harmless.


Environmental Impact of Jute Agriculture


Jute plant purifies air


Jute has a high carbon dioxide (CO2) assimilation power. Atmospheric CO2 is the most important of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. Like all plants, jute uses CO2 as a way of making sugars. In the 100 days of the jute-growing period, one hectare of jute plants can absorb about 15 MT of CO2 from atmosphere and liberate about 11 MT of oxygen, the life-supporting agent.  Studies also reveal that the CO2 assimilation rate of jute is several times higher than that of trees



Jute cultivation


The environmental impacts of jute production are much less harmful as compared to the production of synthetic fibers. Jute growers use fairly small amount of chemical fertilisers and herbicides. Jute yields 5 -10 MT of dry matter per acre of land. About 1 MT of dry matter is put back to the soil in the form of leaves.  About 3 MT of roots remain in the soil.  Jute cropping system enhances soil organic matter through leaf shedding during the growing season and improves nutrient availability in the soil. Jute is commonly rotated with other food crops like rice and other cereals, vegetables, oilseeds or pulses, all of which are moderately or heavy feeders of nutrients from the native source, but do not normally return them to soil, except in case of legumes, as jute does. Jute-based multiple cropping thus not only increases agricultural production, but may also sustain the fertility level of soil mainly through leaf fall and organic waste decomposition under jute, if the inputs throughout the rotation are used judiciously.



Biological efficiency of jute


Jute is predominantly a rainfed annual crop harvested at least once a year. Jute as a fibre crop is a fast-growing one that takes only 4 to 5 months to mature. Unlike jute, the production of the fastest growing wood plant necessitates at least 10 to 14 years from plantation to harvest, and yields only 8 to 12 MT per hectare per annum.  This means the biological efficiency of jute or kenaf is much higher than that of wood plants, and hence the usage of jute in place of wood to make paper pulp will reduce the cost of production to a large extent.  It will also reduce the necessity of cutting down of trees, i.e. deforestation [2]. 



Agricultural practice


In jute agriculture, use of fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides/ fungicides is scanty. The extent of chemical fertilisers for jute growing varies between 7-53 kg nutrient per hectare. The quantity of fertiliser applied is so small that the effect may be considered as insignificant. It should be noted that jute plant sheds about 5-6 tons of green leaves per hectare (i.e. ~14% of the crop) in the field. These green leaves left out after harvesting are rich in macro- and micro-nutrients, and act as manure for the subsequent crop in the field.



Gas emissions to the atmosphere


Jute cultivation processes generate organic acids including acetone, ethyl alcohol, butyl alcohol, and various gases like methane, carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulphide. Substances that contribute to global warming in case of jute are CO2 and methane.  The latter one is released mainly during retting under the traditional practice. Methane emitted during retting has been estimated [9] to be 1-2 m3 kg-1 of solid material, which on computation gives an average of 1.428 kg methane per kg of jute fibre [7]. It is known that the global warming potential of methane is much higher than that of COand methane is more detrimental as ozone depleting agent than CO2. Though the contribution of methane under traditional retting towards global warming is insignificant the improved method, say, ribbon retting offers a significant advantage from this point of view.



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