The first step in cultivation of Acrocomia palm trees is the germination of the seeds. An effective system to speed up this process that normally takes up to 5 years by natural means, has been developed. Through this system we are able to produce a larger amount of high quality seedlings in short time.
In the GIE nurseries the seedlings develop to become young plants. They grow in optimized conditions under strict controls for six to nine months, before being selected according to specific quality characteristics. Afterwards new plantations can be established with a density of 370 to 500 (according to different planting systems) of palm trees per hectare.
In the first two to three years the young plants need special attention. Possible development disorders are detected easily and plants can be replaced if necessary. In the first years irrigation is applied when required by the weather conditions. Until the Acrocomia palm trees are fully mature, catch crops of various kinds (beans, grasses, etc.) can be cultivated between the rows of Acrocomia plants in order to improve land use efficiency. In the 4th or 5th year, the first Acrocomia fruits can be harvested. In the following years the palm trees already reach the full yield output (yields about 20 tons per hectare). Acrocomia plantations are productive for around 60 years.
After harvesting, the fruits are processed in an agro-industrial plant. During the processing the fruits are split up in their different components: husk, pulp and kernel. Pulp and kernel will be pressed out in order to obtain valuable vegetable oil. The remaining pulp cake and kernel cake, as well as the husk and the kernel shell also have a high industrial value and various fields of application. By using the husk and the kernel shell as solid fuels for the factory, the Acrocomia processing becomes a self-sufficient and sustainable system.
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After processing Acrocomia fruits, six valuable raw
materials are obtained for various industrial uses:
The husk of Acrocomia fruits can be used as solid fuel, organic fertilizer and to produce biogas and furfural.
The pulp cake, residue of pulp oil production, is used as animal feed, but also as organic fertilizer and to produce biogas.
From Acrocomia pulp oil soaps and glycerol are produced. In Paraguay this industry has already more than 50 years of tradition. But the oil is also a valuable raw material for biodiesel and bio-kerosene.
The Acrocomia kernel cake has a high percentage of proteins and therefore suits very well to produce animal feed. Furthermore it can be used as organic fertilizer and to produce biogas.
The hard Acrocomia kernel shell is a great solid fuel, but it can also be used for the production of activated carbon or applied granulated as sandblasting particles, among others.
The high quality Acrocomia kernel oil can be processed in the production of food and cosmetics. It is also a great raw material for biodiesel and bio-kerosene.