Lavender Farming complete Project Report
What comes to your mind first when You hear ‘Lavender’ ?
Aroma ! Isn’t it.
But apart from its smell, it brings relaxation and many other wellness benefits and is designed to serve as a floral bouquet and decorative arrangements. The flower is used in the making of air fresheners, massage oils, hair oils, skin care products such as face creams and soaps, and some medicinal products also.
But Have you thought about How it is cultivated or How you can start your own Lavender farm ?
Lavender is a perennial plant that continues to produce year after year and even though it is a high value crop, it requires low maintenance, but it is not as easy as microgreens to grow, but it can be a good option for a beginner farmer. Lavender cultivation is a profitable business but it requires knowledge and practice.
In this article we will give a detailed description of its cultivation process along with their health benefits. Let’s start by getting a brief description of the flower.
Lavender – A brief description
Lavender belongs to the Lamiaceae family whose genus is Lavandula and its scientific name is Lavandula spica.
Lavender plant is a perennial flowering aromatic herb or shrub with a height of 40 to 80 cm which can survive upto 15 years. The leaves of the lavender plant are diverse among its genus and are oblong and linear with small flowers. The flowers contain various colours such as blue, violet, black, purple or yellow.
The leaves are covered by thin hairs in some species and the most widely cultivated species is Lavandula angustifolia. It is traditionally used as a culinary herb as well as an important ingredient in cosmetics and medicines. The lavender plant produces essential oil that is important with regard to health benefits and it is also used as an ornamental plant for landscaping.
The plant originated in the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated all around the world from Europe and North America to Africa and Asia as well and for growing this plant the climate should be suitable like a Mediterranean area. You can grow it in backyards, pots or containers and cultivating it commercially can help you in gaining huge profits. The lavender crop is cultivated in low rainfall regions and on the slopes of hills of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, in India, and it is also successfully grown in the Kashmir Valley region.
Lavender is a genus of 47 species of flowering plants and there are about hundred varieties of lavender.
Some profitable Lavender species are:
- Spanish Lavender (L. stoechas)
- Lavandin (L. hybrida, L. x intermedia)
- English Lavender (L. angustifolia)
- Woolly Lavender (L. lanata)
- Spike (L. latifolia)
In India, there are 4 types of Lavender that are majorly grown.
- True Lavender variety – This variety is the longest grown variety and is native to the Mediterranean area that is grown 1600 to 1700 metres above sea level with the leaves about 30 mm to 50 mm long and it produces Essential oil of about 0.5% to 0.1%.
- Spike Lavender variety – This variety originated in the Mediterranean region and it can grow up to 250 metres to 700 metres above sea level.
- Lavandin variety – This variety is a hybrid of the above two varieties and it can grow up to 800 metres to 1000 metres above sea level. This plant is hemispherical in shape and the spikes grow up to 0.6 to 0.9 metres and is generally branched with thin, lanceolate, opposite and green colour leaves. It produces Essential oil of about 0.9 % to 3%.
- Sher e Kashmir variety – This variety of lavender is a superior clone released by CIMAP, Lucknow, UP with 100% higher Essential oil yielding.
Health Benefits & Uses
Lavender products are available in various forms which are commercially made from the dried leaves and the Essential oils of the plant.
Some of its important uses and benefits are:
- It helps in skin detoxification.
- The oil is majorly used for body massage as it provides relaxation and soothness.
- It is good for skin health, treating acne and eczema.
- It cures Nausea.
- It is used in making high quality perfumes and air fresheners.
- The flowers are used for decoration in homes and offices.
- The oil is good for the digestive system.
- The oil is used in preventing infection and reducing headaches.
- English Lavender oil is used in making balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetic and topical applications.
- The oil is good for hair, treating dandruff, hairfall, lice and acts as a good conditioner.
- Tea made of Lavender helps in relaxing before bedtime.
- It helps in healing wounds, burns, and insect bites.
- It helps in the relaxation of muscles.
- It helps in treating insomnia.
- It can help you get relief from bloating, anxiety and depression.
Cultivation of Lavender
Lavender is a perennial plant that attracts pollinators such as butterflies and bees and can be cultivated in small spaces of land, even in your backyards.
For successful growing of lavender crops, you need to know about the different important aspects for growing it and the correct knowledge of the soil requirements, temperature, climate, field preparation, irrigation, fertilisers, etc can help in ensuring increased yield of the crop, and the lack of knowledge and bad farming practises can result in lower yield.
Here we will see some important aspects of its cultivation.
Lavender can be cultivated in any type of soil even in poor and eroded soils but it doesn’t allow water logging, so it is advised to perform soil testing before starting commercial farming. The soil pH should range between 7.03 to 8.3 for getting better results and it also helps in yielding higher amounts of Essential oil. Calcareous soil with slopes that are rich in organic matter can prove better in lavender cultivation.
The ideal climate for lavenders is cool winters and cool summers. It produces best results when it is cultivated at higher altitude regions and it can tolerate drought and frost conditions as well, but requires good sunlight for its cultivation because the yielding can be lowered due to poor lighting.
The land is prepared by ploughing it 2-3 times deeply so as to remove any unwanted weeds or plants and to bring the soil to a fine tilth stage. The soil can be added with well composted farmyard manure such as cow dung during land preparation to enrich the soil fertility.
The best time for Lavender cultivation is in the season of autumn because it provides good and ideal climatic conditions, just before winter and it will enable them to grow quicker in spring. Spring planting is the only option in cold winter areas and the planting should be done after the Frost season has passed.
Spacing of Plants
Lavender plants are planted at a distance of 4 feet in between rows and 3747 inside the rose with the density of 20000 to produce highest yield.
Propagation of Plants
Lavender cultivation is processed through various types of propagation. They are:
- By seeds – Seeds are sown 1 to 2 metres deep in prepared bed with 1 metre wide through broadcasting method or row method, with 10 cm to 12 cm apart for raising nursery. The seed rate is 2 grams for 1 square metre of space and they’re covered with farmyard manure and left in this stage during the winter season. The seeds germinate in the spring season at 14 to 15 degrees celsius. The nursery beds are recommended to keep moist and prune the seedlings periodically to prevent the formation of follicles.
- By Rooted cuttings – The cuttings of the lavender plant is taken from healthy mother plants that are grown outdoors and rooting hormones can also be used for increasing rooting growth. Generally, 10 cm to 15 cm cuttings are recommended from young top shoots of the plants stripping two-third part from the bottom of the leaves.
- Half or two-thirds of the cuttings are inserted in a proper growing medium and are propagated in trees or seed beds. The seed beds are prepared with a mixture of 30% fine farmyard manure or garden compost with 70% sand and are protected by using black polythene covers during the cold weather in the Kashmir region.
- By Tissue Culture – Tissue culture propagation is very expensive for the lavender plant and it is usually done for the mass propagation of lavender from selected mother plants and the advantage of using tissue culture propagation is to produce quick, disease free and genetically identical plants.
- By layering – For this method of propagation, a long and healthy stem is selected removing 12 cm to 15 cm of foliage then covering 9 bare sections with moist soil and rooting the branch at the soil level. Then you should cut new plants from the mother plants after rooting and they are replanted in the prepared field once the roots start to develop from 6 to 12 weeks and a liquid organic field is provided on a weekly basis.
Irrigation is important for the first two years until the crop has been established for commercial lavender cultivation and in case of lighter soils and low rainfall regions it should be provided at crucial stages of plant growth such as flower initiation stage.
Overhead irrigation methods such as sprinkler irrigation systems should be completely avoided as it can increase many disease problems and it is recommended to use drip irrigation in lavender farming to save water and also control the growth of weeds.
Manures & Fertilisers
It is recommended to apply N:P:K @ 100:40:40 kg per hectare. 20 kg of Nitrogen is used as a basal application with full dose of P2O5 and K2O and the remaining 80 kg of Nitrogen is splitted in 4 parts and applied in 2 doses during each year.
The most recommended intercultural operations are Hand hoeing and Mechanical weeding with tractor drawn cultivators and to reduce the emergence of weeds you can also do mulching. This would also help in retaining the soil moisture. The flower buds of lavender should be regularly pruned off during the first two years to help the plants develop a strong framework.
Pests & Diseases
Lavender crops can be attacked by some pests such as:
- Con chinchillas
For controlling them:
- You can keep the aromatic plant in a pot so as to keep away the insects and it can be also used as a repellent spray. Basil and Garlic can be used for repelling flies, insects and fungi.
- You can use a mixture of Garlic and chilli diluted in water to spray on your crops once in a month.
- If the plants get infected with any type of diseases, it is better to eliminate the infected or dead plants as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading among the rest of the plants.
Harvesting & Yield
The crop can be harvested once the flowers have been well developed and summer season is the best time to harvest the lavender plants. Flowering of the Lavender plants starts early in warm and low altitude regions and late in high slope areas. For harvesting the plants the flowers should be cut using a sharp cutting tool with a stem length of 10cm. In Kashmir regions, the Lavender plants are harvested during August and September.
The quality of oil and the yield depend on the variety of species used, soil, the Agro climatic conditions and the process of distillation. 15 kg per hectare with 1.2 % to 1.5 % of oil content can be obtained under optimal medicinal or herbal cultivation practises.
Processing & Storage
For extracting the Essential oil, only developed flowers should be harvested because free water in contact with the oil can reduce the quality of oil and the extraction efficiency during the stage of distillation. Also very cold weather prevents the development of esters.
The flowers must be dried after harvesting and after grading and chemical composition, you can go for the oil distillation process. The oil should be handled with care because they are very volatile in nature and should be kept in dark, airtight glass bottles and should not be exposed to heat or heavy metals.
Lavender Farming is a great option for commercial farming business for the beginners as well as the trained farmers. It can be a very lucrative crop to grow if you live in a right climate and soil conditions. You can also use it as a companion crop or as a hedge to attract beneficial insects and increase your income.
However if you are cultivating this crop for commercial purposes, you need a good marketing plan to get long term success. So if you have planned all the marketing and climatic strategies, you can go for it.