When talking about biodiesel, jatropha is a name that you may hear come up in business circles. It is rumored to have the post potent known fuel output amongst biodiesel food crops. It out-produces soy by a margin of 4-1, and corn by a factor of up to 10-1. The chief obstacles facing the embracing of jatropha as the renewable fuel source of the future are scientific unknowns.
For instance, jatropha is a naturally toxic plant. This means that while it may be excellent as a source for vegetable oil to turn into biodiesel, jatropha has not been cultivated as a crop up to this point. This raises some questions for farmers that need answers before it can reliably used as a cash crop.
For instance, the long term effects of jatropha, which is a perennial, on soil are unknown. If the plant will deteriorate the soil quality significantly over time, it may need to be rotated in with other crops instead of being used like orchard or vineyard crops are. This would present issues, given that the plant is more like a grape vine than corn or wheat, and it would add significantly to the cost of utilizing it in a rotation.