Jatropha curcas L., a multipurpose plant originated from Central and South America, is receiving increase interest as a biofuel feedstock. Desirable characteristics such as drought tolerance and the ability to grow in marginal lands with low inputs, triggered the development of several projects around the World, not always successful. In fact, despite this hype, J. curcas remains a new crop for which the agronomic requirements are not yet fully understood. For example water requirements of the crop are subject to debate, and in the initial growth stages a considerable amount of water is necessary. We performed a glasshouse experiment to study the influence of water levels and the use of soil conditioners in the growth and development of J. curcas seedlings in the nursery. Results show a positive influence of water level on most of the growth and development parameters studied. The use of soil conditioners also did contributed to a better plant growth. A combination of moderate supply of water and soil conditioners could allow water saving of about 50% in the nursery.
Key words: Biofuel crop, Physic nut, Water saving, Soil conditioners