Quantifying trends in soil fertility under oil palm: practical challenges and approaches

Nelson, Paul N., Banabas, Murom, Huth, Neil I., and Webb, Michael J. (2015) Quantifying trends in soil fertility under oil palm: practical challenges and approaches. In: ACIAR Proceedings (144) pp. 60-66. From: Workshop on Sustainable Management of Soil in Oil Palm Plantings, 7-8 November 2013, Medan, Indonesia.

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Experiments and monitoring programs to examine trends in soil fertility in space and time rely on sampling techniques that adequately represent soils in the field. Representative sampling in oil palm plantations is challenging due to high spatial and temporal variability. Currently used soil sampling techniques, such as taking samples from the weeded circle and frond pile, have several deficiencies, both for the purposes of research and monitoring by managers. Here, we present a) a practical new method for obtaining a composite soil sample that accounts for tree-scale variability and enables monitoring across crop cycles; and b) an approach for plantation managers to monitor trends in soil fertility without sampling the soil. The soil sampling method involves taking many samples along a linear transect that crosses 4 or 6 rows at an angle and combining them into one sample. We suggest such sampling be carried out every 5 years or so by plantation managers. For the processes of soil acidification and organic matter cycling we designed a monitoring approach that does not rely on soil sampling. Soil acidification depends on net acid addition rate and soil pH buffering capacity. Soil organic matter content depends on rates of addition and mineralization. Rates of acid addition and organic matter addition can be estimated using routinely measured data and a crop system model, calibrated for the management unit in question. We suggest such estimates could be carried out annually and compared to baselines, enabling trends to be predicted and management effects to be elucidated.

Item ID: 31531
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-1-925133-63-9
ISSN: 1038-6920
Related URLs:
Funders: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2014 01:25
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation @ 30%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070301 Agro-ecosystem Function and Prediction @ 40%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820399 Industrial Crops not elsewhere classified @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils @ 50%
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