Table of Contents
- 1 Aloe vera farming
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Cultivation of Aloe vera
- 1.3 Prerequisites of soil for aloe vera farming
- 1.4 Climatic conditions required for aloe vera farming
- 1.5 Prerequisites of nutrients and fertilizers
- 1.6 Land Preparation
- 1.7 Planting Density and Spacing of Aloe Vera
- 1.8 Irrigation and Intercultural operations
- 1.9 Aloe Vera plant protection
- 1.10 Harvesting
- 1.11 Post harvesting management
- 1.12 Yield of aloe vera farming
- 1.13 Tips For Growing Aloe Vera At Home:
- 1.14 Economics
Aloe vera farming
Aloe vera, which is described as a “wonder plant,” is a short-stemmed shrub.The leaves of Aloe vera are succulent, erect, and form a dense rosette. Many uses are made of the gel obtained from the plant’s leaves. It is a xerophytic plant therefore mainly grown in dry areas of the world. Aloe Vera plant is also known as the “plant of immortality”, “nature’s tonic” or “miracle plant”.The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. Today, aloe vera is grown in tropical climates worldwide. In India, it is grown in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Aloe Vera farming in India is gaining popularity as profit per acre is much higher than normal agriculture and it can be done using much less water and effort. Aloe vera business can be done by selling the plant leaves or extracting and marketing the juice.
Cultivation of Aloe vera
Aloe vera plants can survive constant drought conditions. However, the crop thrives well in entire tropical and sub-tropical regions with mean annual rainfall of 35-40 cm. Aloe vera cultivation doesn’t require tons of water for its growth. It can grow in the presence of low water availability and hence best suited for cultivation in arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The length of the leaves ranges from 25-30 cm., while the breadth ranges from 3-5 cm. Normally it flowers during October to January and the long inflorescence has a large number of small pink flowers all around. Fruits are developed during February to April. It is normally not propagated through seeds. Vegetative propagation is easy and convenient.
Prerequisites of soil for aloe vera farming
Aloe Vera can be grown on a wide variety of soils from sandy soils to loamy soils. However, well drained soil with high organic matter is most suitable to grow aloe vera. Soils with a high pH range up to 8.5 can be well tolerated by these plants. Aloe Vera growth would be faster in black cotton soils with good drainage.
Climatic conditions required for aloe vera farming
Aloe Vera can grow in various climatic conditions. Low rainfall regions and dry areas with warm humid conditions can be chosen to successfully grow these plants. It is very sensitive to frost and cool climatic conditions.
Prerequisites of nutrients and fertilizers
Use of organic manures, like farm yard manure, vermicompost or green manure are preferred for aloe vera crops. Recommended dose of farm yard manure at the time of soil preparation is 10-15 tons per hectare.Thereafter the same dose of farmyard manure should be applied every year. As a basal dose, fertilizers like NPK in the ratio of 50:50:50 kg per hectare should be applied.
Land should be plowed and cross plowed thoroughly to bring the soil to the fine tilth stage. To increase the soil fertility, add about 15 to 20 tonnes of well-rotted farmyard manure during the last plow. Ridges and Furrows should be formed at 40 cm distance. The suckers should be planted at 40 cm distance.
Planting Density and Spacing of Aloe Vera
To accommodate about 50,000 to 55,000 plants per hectare, the spacing between plants should be maintained at 40 x 45 cm (or) 60 x 30 cm.
Irrigation and Intercultural operations
As a part of intercultural operations weeding and earthing up should be done at regular intervals. Earthing up is also practiced after top dressing of fertiliser. Weeding is mainly done twice in a year. Irrigation should be carried out immediately after planting the suckers. Aloe vera is slightly tolerant to drought, but very sensitive to water stagnation. Therefore, proper drainage is more important than irrigation. A couple of irrigations in hot summer weather will result in good yield.
Aloe Vera plant protection
Aloe vera is affected by various insects and pests. Mealy bug, anthracnose and leaf spots are the main threats of aloe vera crop.
- Initially, infected leaves should be removed and destroyed.
- Termites can be controlled by giving the plant light irrigation.
- Mealybug causes the leaf to turn yellow and wither off, this can be controlled by the application of methyl parathion 10 ml or quinalphos 20 ml mixed in 10 liters of water.
- Black and brown spots on the leaves can be controlled by avoiding low temperatures and moisture.
- Defoliation, dieback, twig cankers, blotches, anthracnose, and shoot blight can all be controlled by spraying 70% of neem oil.
Aloevera crop takes 18-24 months to fully mature. The commercial yield is obtained in the second or the fifth year of planting. Leaves which have a large base and are healthy are harvested by cutting them at an angle close to the base of the plant. The plant can be harvested a minimum four times in a year. The harvesting is either done in the morning or in the evening.
Post harvesting management
Allow freshly harvested plants to wilt and lose moisture in the field before transporting. Wilting is noticed normally within 24 to 72 hours. But the plant should be kept dry and cool to prevent fermentation or mould growth. A concrete floor under shade can be used.
The yellow colorless juice that oozes out of the cut leaf is drained into vessels which are concentrated by evaporation or by frequent boiling.
The pulp within the Aloe is scraped out, stirred in a blender to form a homogenous mixture which is strained, filtered and precipitated by adding acetone to it slowly while stirring the mixture. This content is stored overnight and the gel is isolated by centrifugation. The processing of the aloe vera has to be done within a few hours of harvest to prevent oxidation.
Yield of aloe vera farming
The average yield of aloe vera leaves for one hectare of land is estimated to be 15 to 20 tonnes. If a plant is well irrigated and managed then the yield is higher, i.e. 30 to 35 tonnes per hectare.
Tips For Growing Aloe Vera At Home:
- It should be planted in wide containers because it spreads as the leaves grow.
- Place the container in moderate sunlight.
- The plant should be watered sufficiently, but there should be a gap between the watering cycles so that the soil is allowed to dry and prevent rotting.
- As it is known that Aloe propagates through offsets, as the plant grows to find some offsets and use them to plant in new areas. These offshoots should be dried to form callus for a day or two.
- It is recommended that the offshoots should not be planted deep into the soil.
- The offshoots which have no roots initially for a month should not be watered. As the root growth is clear, light watering can be done.
- Fertilizers are not required, but care should be taken to avoid pests and diseases by occasionally spraying neem oil.
- Expenditure to be incurred for Aloe vera cultivation -Rs.1,10,000 / ha.
- Expected income with a yield of about 110 – 115 quintal – Rs. 340,000/ha
- Net profit would be – Rs.230,000 /ha/year