Oil palm and soil fertility: challenges and approaches for sustainability

Nelson, Paul N., Bessou, Cécile, Caliman, Jean-Pierre, Webb, Michael J., and Banabas, Murom (2014) Oil palm and soil fertility: challenges and approaches for sustainability. In: Abstracts from the National Soil Science Conference. From: National Soil Science Conference, 23-27 November 2014, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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Abstract

Since the first large-scale plantations were established in Sumatra in the early 1900s, oil palm has become one of the largest and most rapidly expanding crops in the tropics. Given sufficiently high temperature it can be profitably cultivated across a variety of soils and climates but, as for any crop, soil management can be good or bad. One year after the first international workshop on Sustainable Management of Soil in Oil Palm Plantings, we discuss three challenges. 1. Assessing and communicating the state of the soil. Soil in oil palm plantations has high spatial variability at the tree scale and large temporal variability in nutrient and carbon fluxes on a ~25-year planting cycle. Indicators of soil fertility that are useful for growers must take this into account. 2. Devising and implementing management practices that maintain or improve soil fertility. Peat, acid sulfate soils and steep slopes pose particular difficulties and are ideally avoided. In any environment, the crop establishment phase is the most vulnerable, when irreversible damage can be done. Throughout the crop cycle, productivity and the environment both benefit from practices that reduce soil erosion, acidification, compaction, loss of organic matter, loss of nutrients, emission of greenhouse gases and build-up of contaminants or pathogenic organisms. 3. Comparing alternative land uses. Expansion of the industry is inevitable but optimal futures depend on thorough comparison of land use options. Life cycle assessment of palm oil production and alternatives, including effects on soil, is desirable but complex.

Item ID: 34393
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
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Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2014 05:54
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management @ 50%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 20%
82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820399 Industrial Crops not elsewhere classified @ 40%
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