Knowledge

Qualities of a good fertilizer

The most important mechanical quality of fertilizer is the ability to spread evenly, precise application, a low impact on the environment and promising a high return on investment. The first look of fertilizer can actually indicate the quality of the granules. Dust-like and crushed granules indicate fertilizer with low quality. On the other hand, granules that are smooth and inhomogeneous size indicate high quality and ability to spread evenly.

Taking into importance the well-being of the environment, fertilizers should be free of additives. Another important effect of fertilizer is the release of carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment by a certain activity, which in this case is agriculture. This leads to an increase in global temperature. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the fertilizer emits carbon footprint at its lowest both during production and application.

Next quality is the high return in investment. The fertilizer applied should be able to return the investment in fertilizing during harvesting. Some fertilizer types require more fertilizing with more quantity and more frequency. This type of fertilizer brings a lesser return on investment. Fertilizer that needs to be applied lesser times, but with the same harvest, promises a higher return of investment.

In short, a good quality fertilizer should have the following:

  • Free-flowing (easily applied)
  • Consistent in particle size with smooth and hard granules
  • Easily spread – ensuring even distribution patterns
  • Quickly dissolve when in contact with moist soil or water (avoid run-off)
  • Free from contaminants and additives

Upcoming Farming Technologies

In a world with growing need of food, there is a high demand of work and effort from humans needed to feed so many mouths. Just imagine if this job can be done by a robot, faster and more precise. Companies around the world are investing in creating and launching new technologies that facilitate the crops picking activity.

In Netherlands, there is an abundant number of greenhouses used to grow produce such as peppers, tomatoes and greens. Agricultural engineer, Eldert van Henten, is working on a pepper harvester. The pepper harvester is programmed to recognize the colour of the pepper and cut it from the stem, without damaging the fruit. The challenge in constructing the robot is to enable the robot to quickly identify the correct range of colour through a coloured camera lens.

A human can pick approximately 15 to 20 ripe strawberries in a minute. In the United Kingdom, Green has developed a strawberry picker that is able to pick a strawberry every 2 seconds, equivalent to about 30 strawberries in a minute. The robot uses stereoscopic vision with RGB cameras that capture depth in combination with a complex algorithm. It is estimated with robots will soon take over the places of human pickers.

Timing plays an important role in agriculture. If you pick the fruit too early, it is wasteful. But if you wait too long, it rots. Therefore the perfect timing is needed in order to get the best fruits picked. Precision farming is developed to do just what is needed to avoid picking fruits at the wrong time. Manuela Zude-Sasse has developed sensors that detect fruit size and levels of the pigments chlorophyll and anthocyanin when attached to the fruits. The data is then run through an algorithm which helps determine the exact time to pick the fruit. Once it is time to be picked, the growers are alerted by an app that is downloaded onto their smartphones.

The 4Rs Guide to Fertilizer Application

Fertilizers are a vital component of sustainable crop production. Fertilizers assist in increasing the production of crops and while ensuring that the crops are healthy. If nutrients provided to the plants are inadequate, the fertility is mined from the soil, and thus, the crop will not be able to attain its optimal yield. On the other hand, if too much nutrient is provided without managing the risks, there is a high possibility that the excess fertilizer will move away from the plants and in result, affect the environment.

The 4Rs guide is an approach to utilize fertilizer optimally. This practice is good for the grower, farming community, and also the environment. The 4Rs stand for:

  • Right Source
  • Right Rate
  • Right Time
  • Right Place

The 4Rs are explained in a more detailed manner as below.

Right Source

Before applying fertilizer, ensure first that the type of fertilizer applied is of the correct source (i.e. Potassium fertilizer, Nitrogen fertilizer, etc.) you would want to apply the correct type of fertilizer for optimal growth of your plant. Ensure that there is a balanced source of nutrients in the fertilizer, based on the plants.

 Right Rate

Assess the soil nutrient content in which your plants are planted in before applying any fertilizer. Some soil has a higher nutrient content than others, while some have a significantly low amount of nutrients. Therefore, the soil nutrient level needs to be checked to avoid over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing.

Right Time

Assess your crop intake dynamics, soil supply, nutrient loss, and logistics before applying fertilizer. You should know how long it takes for your crops to take up the fertilizer. Recognize also the weather factors before fertilizing. Too much rain will result in fertilizer runoff while no rainfall will retard the absorption of fertilizer by the crop roots.

Right place

Before applying fertilizer, you should know the dynamics of the roots. You should know where the roots are located and if it is easy for the roots to intake the fertilizer from where you have applied it. Applying fertilizer too far from the roots will only result in wastage as the fertilizer will run off with rain before it can be absorbed by the roots.


 

5 Places to Buy Granulated Ulexite Online

E-commerce in this day and age isn’t just limited to buying clothes or groceries online. You can basically find everything you need online, and have it delivered to your doorstep.

It’s no different for things like agricultural equipment and fertilizers. There are stores offer these things online nowadays so you don’t have to travel yourself and pick them up.

The purchasing process on these online supplier sites is also very quick and efficient. You don’t have to go through the time-consuming steps of getting quotations, issuing P.O.s or dealing with invoices anymore.

Just go online, state how many units you want and just pay through online bank transfers or credit cards. It’s so fast and easy. Here are some of the sites where you can find fertilizers for sale, especially ground Borate Fertilizers or Ulexite:

  1. Everchem

Everchem’s e-commerce section is a newly opened portion of the site that aims to cater to oil palm smallholders and other small scale farming establishments that are buying these fertilizers for themselves.

Users have to sign up for an account and can choose to pay by several channels. Additionally, each product, including the Ulexite, is attached with a description and pictures so you understand what you are buying.

  1. AliBaba

AliBaba mostly carries Ulexite Borate and Boron fertilizers from China. However, the availability largely depends on the manufacturers on the site. However, you will be able to see all the Borate fertilizers or pure Ulexite powder suppliers by typing in these search terms into the search bar above.

Most suppliers require you to buy a minimum amount in order for them to justify the shipping fees. So usually you won’t be able to buy one or two packs at one time and this is the only downside.

  1. Lazada

Lazada does carry some forms of Boron, such as Borax and not specifically Ulexite. However, the amount of Borax or Borate fertilizers you can buy on Lazada is pretty small. They are sold in packs or bottles of 1kg or less and are meant for gardeners and domestic use, rather than plantation owners.

Additionally, they are also sold as part of a mixed fertilizer formula rather than straight fertilizer.

  1. Ubuy Malaysia

Ubuy has many lifestyle products, and here you can find sometimes find Borate and Boron as part of complex fertilizers designed for farming and cash crops. Most of the products at Ubuy are imported from the US and other foreign countries so you can be assured of the best quality products for your plants in the long run. If you’re here, you’ll want to use the keyword ‘fertilizer’ to begin your search.


5. Amazon

Amazon carries Boron and Borate fertilizers from all over the world, and you can definitely find one in stock. Otherwise, there are plenty of micronutrient fertilizer mixtures you can also try. The only thing is that buying online from Amazon might be a tad bit more costly since all the prices are in USD.

 

 

 

 

Granulated Ulexite: Where Does It Come From?

Ulexite is a source of Boron that’s commonly used in the chemical industry. Apart from being the main component of Boron fertilizers, Ulexite is also used in glazing, bleaching agents, glass production, flares and much more.

Ulexite is usually not a mineral that is found alone. Instead, it is usually found in combination with other forms of Boron, such as Colemanite, Tincal, and Kernite. The appearance of Ulexite is usually different from these other forms of Boron.

The mineral form of Ulexite usually takes on the appearance of a crystal mass that’s either clear or slightly cloudy. It can also appear as parallel fibers in certain instances.

Where is Ulexite mined in the world?

The mining of Ulexite, together with other Boron deposits, are regulated by the laws of each country. Thus far, Ulexite has been found mainly in Arid regions of countries like the U.S.A., Argentina, Chile, Russia, Peru, Serbia, Bolivia, and China.

Each year, the Boron mines around the world produce about 250,000 tons of Boron, which is equivalent to about 800,000 tons of Boron Oxide.

Ulexite is primarily found in Nevada and California in the U.S., as well as in the Tarapaca region of Chile and in Kazakhstan. Additionally, it is also mined in the Emet, Bigadiç and Kırka regions of Turkey where there’s a huge deposit of Boron.

The companies mining Ulexite usually mine other Boron minerals together with Ulexit and turn them into commercially viable products. Therefore companies usually do not mine Ulexite alone as Ulexite is found with other Boron minerals. As many as 230 different Boron minerals exist in nature, but only less than 10 are commonly found in Boron deposits and are mined commercially.

Ulexite is a Natural Borate Product

The minerals that come from Boron mines can be processed into many different products. However, Ulexite does not need to undergo any more processing. It is usually taken straight from the mines and the rock deposits are cleaned off using a machine.

Larger deposits of Ulexite are cut into more manageable sizes before they are put through a grinder to be ground into a powder. Different companies provide ground Ulexite powder of different sizes.

For a standard agricultural application, Ulexite is usually ground to 2-4mm in size. This is considered the standard size.

Ulexite can also be ground into a finer powder less than 50 μm in diameter. When ground, Ulexite resembles a grayish white powder that is about 35% Boron Oxide (B2O3) and about 20% Calcium Oxide ( CaO).

The Future of Ulexite

Ulexite is, unfortunately, a mineral that is not renewable. This means that once all the Ulexite in the world has been mined, we cannot produce more. The countries with the highest Boron reserves right now are Turkey and Russia.

It is therefore important for Ulexite and Boron mineral producing countries to consider recycling Boron from various wastes in order to produce a viable Boron source for the industries that need it, including the agricultural industry.

 

What are the most fertile soils around the world?

Fertile soil means a plot of soil which is able to grow crops. Soil fertility can be classified as high, moderate and low fertility. Highly fertile lands are the best to grow crops, especially food sources to feed the nation, while less fertile of barren lands appear desert-like or with fewer plants.

There are a few countries in the world that are considered the most arable. Being arable means that these countries have some of the most fertile lands in the world. Ten of the most fertile countries include Bangladesh, Denmark, the Ukraine, Moldova, India, Hungary, Rwanda, Comoros, Togo and Gambia.

There are a few types of soil that are considered highly fertile. Each type of soil consists of different types of nutrients that contribute to the growth and health of crops. Some types of soil are as follows:

Alfisols – Nearly 10% of the world’s ice-free land.

This type of soil is found in Western Europe and parts of North and South America, Africa, India, and Australia. It is a clay-based and relatively fertile with high aluminum and iron content soil.

Andisols – 1% of the world’s ice-free soil.

Andisols are found mostly in New Zealand, Northwest USA, Chile, Kenya, Indonesia, and Japan. This type of soil is formed from volcanic ash and highly fertile and ideal for crops.

Mollisols – 7% of the world’s ice-free land.

Found in Ukraine, parts of Russia and the USA, mollisols are some of the world’s most fertile soil. This type of soil includes black soils with high organic content.

Vertisols – 2.5% of the world’s ice-free land.

This type of soil is found in India, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, and South America. With irrigation they support cereal, cotton, sorghum, and rice growing.

 

Indoor plants: what you should know

Indoor plants are plants the grow inside the house. They include a variety of plants: flowery, tropical and palms. Indoor plants an essential component for interior designing. The lush green colors lighten up space and can enhance mood.

If you have a little or no backyard, indoor plants might be your best choice to connect to nature at the comfort of your home. Indoor plants are not only beautiful and beneficial, but they are also very easy to take care of if a few steps are followed.

Planting indoor plants

Usually, indoor plants are already planted in pots from the nursery itself. However, if the plants come in plastics, they will have to be replanted into pots. Choose a pot that is suitable for the plant size.

As time passes and as your plant outgrows your pot, you will have to change the pot to a larger one. If you plan to grow bulbs, you will have to grow them on your own as the nurseries do not usually sell bulbs.

How to choose your plants

A good and healthy root system – when getting a plant, check first the roots, that is if the plant is small. Healthy roots are thick and light in color.

Foliage – check the foliage of a plant before you buy it. Foliage should be thick enough for the plant to be healthy. Just check if you can see through it. If you can, then it is not healthy, but if you can’t see through it, then it is healthy.

Check for disease – when buying a plant, check first for any diseases. A healthy plant should be free from white dots on the leaves, sticky residue and odor.

 

Where Does Palm Oil Go? 6 Malaysian Products That Use Palm Oil

As palm oil plantation owners, employees and stakeholders, you may wonder where the fruits of your labor go. Once palm oil is extracted from its fruits, it is used in many industries.
Many people mistakenly believe that palm oil is only used in the food industry. This isn’t true, as it’s also used for paint, ink, toiletries, cosmetics and much more. These Malaysian products are some of those that use palm oil:
1.Margarine

Margarine is often used in baking and to spread on bread. Since it is made with vegetable oils, margarine is often used by vegans and vegetarians in place of butter. Margarine made with palm oil contains no trans-fat or very, very low amounts. This means it’s completely safe for your arteries and your heart health.
Local brands of Margarine include Daisy by Lam Soon, as well as Planta.

Credit; Lam Soon Oils

2. Vitamin A & E supplements
Many Malaysians had a good laugh when some of our Ministers promoted the drinking of red palm oil in parliament. However, red palm oil is quite a good health supplement. Red palm oil is very high in Vitamin A and Vitamin E in the form of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols.
This means that red palm oil can benefit the body in many ways, including reducing heart disease, improving brain health, keeping skin and hair young, and functioning as an antioxidant.
The local leading local brand of red palm oil for cooking is Carotino, while companies like ExcelVite make Vitamin supplements for daily consumption.

3. Bath soaps
Everyone remembers bathing with soap brands like Lux and May. Almost all the bath soaps and shower gels we use today have palm oil derived soaps in them. Palm oil is very popular as a soap base because of its firm texture that does not get soft and slimy easily.

4. Chocolate
Almost all chocolate brands use vegetable fat derived from palm oil as part of their recipe. This is especially true for Malaysian chocolate makers. The great thing about our local chocolate brands is that they’re designed to stay firm in hot weather, rather than melt easily. This is due to the amount of vegetable fat within the chocolate itself.
Famous Malaysian chocolate brands include Vochelle and Beryl’s.

5. Bread and Cakes
The baking of commercial bread usually requires vegetable shortening or dough conditioners, and this is derived from palm oil. Vegetable shortening gives bread and cakes the density, weight, and texture it has. Palm-based dough conditioners are stable and vegetarian-friendly, which makes them a popular choice. Brands like Gardenia and Massimo both use palm oil derived vegetable fats and conditioners in their products.

6. Makeup and Skincare
Purified palm oil fat is firm and does not melt at room temperature or at body temperature. This makes it ideal for cosmetic products like lipsticks. Palm oil derived fats form the base of many lip products, including lip gloss, lip balm, and lip moisturizers.
This is also the reason why palm oil derivatives are used in skin moisturizers and skin creams (anti-aging, brightening, etc). They are able to provide moisture to the skin and prevent it from drying out.
If you’re curious, you can check out local cosmetic brands like Velvet Vanity, Nita Cosmetics and SugarBelle Cosmetics.

Seeing the palm oil from plantations reach all parts of the country (and the world) is a satisfying experience. The demand for palm oil is varied and wide, and will definitely not disappear anytime soon.

Government Aid, Incentives and Loans That Can Help Palm Oil Plantation Owners

Being a palm oil plantation owner is not all smooth-sailing. There are many challenges that require careful consideration and planning to solve. There are certain circumstances where you might need a helping hand.

The Malaysian authorities have been offering various programs to assist plantation owners. Most of these programs are for limited periods only. However, they are continuously offered in order to help palm oil growers to expand and maintain their business. These are some of the current programs that can help you:

  1. The incentive for MSPO Certification

Since the decision by the European Union to gradually phase out palm oil-derived biodiesel, efforts have been made to get Malaysian planters to certify their plantations with MSPO certification.

The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil or MSPO certification will help make your palm oil more trusted and more easily marketed worldwide. The Malaysian government has allocated RM100million to help plantation smallholders obtain the MSPO certification.

Each oil palm smallholder can claim RM135 per hectare for certification cost, making the MSPO certification free of charge. However, this incentive program will only run until December 2019. After that, any cost in obtaining the MSPO will be borne by the planters themselves. Contact MPOCC for information on how to obtain the MSPO and claim the cost incentive.

Credit: MPOCC Website

  1. Replanting soft loan

In early 2019, the government announced that they were allocating RM550 million as a loan to help independent oil palm smallholders offset the cost of replanting. This loan is given via two programs, known as the Soft Loan Replanting Scheme (TSKPS) and Soft Loan Input Scheme for Smallholders (IPPKS).

Both loans have very low-interest rates of only 2% per annum. The repayment period is about 12 years or less.

The TSKPS scheme is specifically for replanting costs and offers up to RM10,000 per hectare of land. TSKPS is for smallholders with 6.5 hectares of land or less.

IPPKS offers a maximum loan of RM2500 per hectare and is meant to help planters buy seedlings, fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides.

Details about both loans can be found on the MPOB website.

  1. Tax incentives for investing in oil palm biomass

When all the fruits have been harvested from an oil palm fruit bunch, the empty bunch is left over. In the past, it was just left to rot. However, this posed a serious wastage problem.

Therefore, the government has offered tax relief on companies investing in industries that use oil palm biomass ( including empty fruit bunches, logs from old palm trees, etc) to produce value-added products. The tax relief takes on several forms depending on the size and status of the company and can go up to 100% of the statutory income. For more information, visit this corporate tax incentives page.

Remember that you are not alone in your efforts to keep up the production rates of your plantation. Consultation and communication are key when facing a problem, and bodies like the Malaysian Palm Oil Board are always there to help you in various aspects.

Companies Offering Innovative Solutions

With the advancement of technology and innovation from companies, several companies have created innovative solutions that help manage manure while providing benefits to the agricultural sector. Discussed below are some examples of companies and their contribution.

CowPots

This company produces and distributes biodegradable and nutrients rich plant pot. These pots are made from the manure produced by the family’s dairy farm.

CHONEX

CHONEX utilizes black soldier fly larvae to convert chicken manure into organic fertilizer. Other than that, CHONEX also produces high protein poultry and aquaculture feed from manure.

N2 Applied

The technology developed by N2 Applied enables farmers to add nitrogen from the air to manure and convert the ammonia contained in the manure into ammonium nitrate. This creates a valuable organic fertilizer for plants.

Phinite

In turning manure into high value organic fertilizer and bioenergy fuel, Phinite has built a dewatering system using constructed wetlands.