Knowledge

Palm Oil Mill Waste as Fertilizer

The palm oil industry is one of the largest industries in Malaysia. This rich with resources country processes palm oil both for local usage and for exports. Being one of the largest palm oil producers, there is also a lot of waste generated by palm oil-producing factories. If mismanaged, the waste could lead to pollution. The good news is that most of the waste from a palm oil factory can be recycled to produce a different product. Several common wastes and their recycled products are discussed here. Palm Kernel Shells (PKS) The kernel shells are the left behind fractions of the palm seed once the nut is removed by the crushing mill. The shells consist of a mixture of large and small particles and dust-like particles. These kernels have a low moisture content. Therefore, it is easier to process the kernels as they require less biological activity, energy, and power consumption during processing (due to their low moisture content). A process known as microwave vacuum pyrolysis converts the PKS into fertilizer. Via this process, the fertilizer is formed as biochar. Biochar is an organic bio-fertilizer that causes less harm to plants than chemical fertilizers. In a study, biochar was used to fertilize oyster mushrooms. The result came out impressive with bigger, heavier as well as faster grown mushrooms.

Empty Fruit Bunches (EFBs) As the name describes, empty fruit bunches are simply the bunches of fruits that are left behind once the oil palm seeds are removed. Some factories burn these bunches, causing air pollution. Therefore, instead of merely burning the EFBs, steps can be taken to convert the waste into compost fertilizer. The EFBs could be composted into fertilizer that can be used for various plants, fruits, and crops. Larger companies process the EFBs in high pressured machines to quicken the composting process before applying the fertilizer to crops. Small scale farmers however, directly place the EFBs around their oil palm trees where the bunches act as a water storage source, reduce weeds and also fertilize the trees as they slowly decompose. 

Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) One of the highly polluting waste of palm oil mills is Palm Oil Mil Effluent (POME). POME is a form of liquid that is normally discarded into nearby ponds, leading to groundwater and soil pollution as well as releasing methane gas into the environment. This liquid effluent can be recycled into fertilizer. For the fertilizer production, the raw effluent is first treated anaerobically before adding to chicken manure. This mixture forms an excellent NPK fertilizer which has been proven to increase the leaves size of kangkung while producing fresher produce. Other than kangkung, it could also be used as a fertilizer for other types of vegetables and fruits. 

MPOC: Palm oil production to increase to 19.6 million tonnes in 2021

Photo Credit: theedgemarkets.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 5): Total Malaysian palm oil production is expected to increase slightly by 200,000 tonnes to 19.6 million tonnes in 2021, versus 19.4 million tonnes a year ago, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC).

However, this also means that the projected Malaysian palm oil production still fell short of 19.8 million tonnes in 2019.

Going into 2021, MPOC chief executive officer Datuk Dr. Kalyana Sundram, in a virtual conference at the Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar 2021 today, said the palm oil global supply is expected to be affected by the La Nina weather pattern.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s crude palm oil (CPO) export is estimated to be at 4.5 million tonnes, of which India, the Netherlands, Kenya, Italy, and Spain are among the major markets.

“Malaysian CPO export to India in 2021 is likely to stay strong as the current levy on Indonesian CPO export will give a price advantage to Malaysia,” said Kalyana, noting that this is despite the re-imposition of Malaysian CPO export duty from January 2021.

Note that imports to India rose significantly from June onward after the zero CPO export tax from Malaysia, which in turn helped support CPO prices in the second half of last year.

However, palm oil export from China — which also saw strong demand last year — will be challenged due to lower and prices of other oils versus palm oil, said Kalyana.

Credit: theedgemarkets.com | Wong Ee Lin; Surin Murugiah

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15. Phosphorus is a vital component in reviving the energy of a plant, especially during the photosynthesis process. Phosphorus brings vigor to all plants. Generally, it helps convert other nutrients within the plant and helps in the growth of the plant.

If the plants are not growing, or the flowers are little are non at all with weak root systems, it shows that the plant lacks phosphorus.
Phosphorus in minerals is called phosphates from the earth. Phosphorus can also be found, in the human body.

The main function of phosphorus in a human body is in the formation of bones and teeth, as the body needs phosphorus to make protein for the development and growth of the body, for maintenance and in repairing cells and tissues in a human body.

Some of the food that is rich with phosphorus includes eggs, cottage cheese, milk, hard cheese, sunflower seeds, chicken, pumpkin seeds, and canned sardines in oil.

White phosphorus is used in some explosives, including rockets and poison for rats. The red phosphorus is used in safety matches, tracer bullets, incendiary devices, pesticides, pyrotechnic devices, and fireworks

Experts Say Malaysia’s Palm Oil Industry Can Do Better

She said the industry needs to tackle the interlinked sustainability challenges, particularly relating to environmental, climate change and social issues.

“In order to do that, it will require leadership and I urge the Malaysian government, which has enormous muscle power, to get into this in a big way as it did when it chose palm oil (to be one of the income generators to the economy),” she said during the International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference 2020 (IPOSC 2020) virtual question and answer (Q&A) session today.

Among the challenges she highlighted is the European Union’s (EU) decision to phase out palm oil in transport fuels from 2030, the reduction in biodiversity and the threat of extinction of rare species.

Tsakok, who was one of the panellists during the two-hour Q&A session, noted that the industry should find solutions to increase fresh fruit bunches (FFB) production, despite the climate change that lowers the FFB and other agricultural yields, and address the alleged labour rights violation and land grabs from indigenous communities.

The crop, she noted, has been driving agricultural transformation, inclusive growth and poverty reduction in the country, and it is the most efficient way of satisfying the growing global demand for vegetable oil as it uses one-tenth of the land of its rival crops.

However, its very success makes it controversial, she said.

“Palm oil is new to me as I am from Mauritius and we grow coconut there… so it is fascinating to me to see how powerful palm oil is to Malaysia and how it has helped to eradicate poverty.

“However, as someone who is observing the industry from the outside, I also see that palm oil has ‘two faces’. On one hand, there are many wonderful things that you are doing, and you have, but on the other hand, there are a lot of ugly things too,” she said.

She noted that notable issues include the empowerment of the B40 group in the industry — namely the smallholders, issues of indigenous land, labour rights and deforestation.

Tsakok, who holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University and a World Bank retiree, noted that despite the challenges, the industry can do better as palm oil is a versatile oil which has a lot to offer to the world.

Meanwhile, another panellist, IOI Corporation Bhd’s Head of Sustainability Dr Surina Ismail said that working with the Government is one of the best ways to manage the challenges faced by the industry.

“All along the supply chain, everybody must play their part in the upstream or the downstream sector.

“We must help and encourage the growers, especially the smallholders, to produce sustainably and get the recognition from big companies locally and abroad,” she said.

Meanwhile, commenting on the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil strategic stakeholder relations director Salahudin Yaacob said the certification is necessary for big and small players, allowing them to enter more markets.

“Currently, CSPO’s production is low. The Government, consumers and industry stakeholders need to work together to increase awareness on the CSPO.

“We need to enforce the requirement to make sustainable palm oil renowned and this can be achieved by producing only CSPO,” he said.

Two EU representatives, Frans Claassen and Paivi Makkonen said there should be more constructive dialogues between palm oil-producing countries and the EU Government.

They also stressed that having good governance to promote a healthy supply chain in the industry is crucial, as well as ensuring that no human rights are violated.

Closing the discussion, Sime Darby Plantation sustainability head Rashyid Redza Anwarudin said there are still a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the industry.

“We need to ensure the work we do is as inclusive. We have to remember that it’s an important industry in this part of the world. It has contributed in a major way to the social economy and development of the region.

“It has, more importantly, touched the everyday lives of the people,” he said.

The IPOSC 2020 is the Malaysian Palm Oil Council’s biannual conference that highlights the sustainability challenges and opportunities in the Malaysian palm oil industry.

This year’s conference is being hosted on a virtual platform, comprising two modules, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Module 1 today featured presentations from sustainability experts from the agriculture, research and palm oil sectors who shared their views on the efforts by global agricultural commodities towards achieving sustainability and carbon neutrality.

Module 2, on renewable energy, climate change and food security will take place from Oct 12-20, 2020.

Source : The Edge Markets

Credit: MPOC

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a significant component of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the compound where plants use sunlight energy to produce sugar out of water and carbon dioxide. The process is called photosynthesis. A good source of nitrogen for plants can be from fertilizer, planting green manure crops such as peas or beans around your plant, or adding coffee grounds to the soil.Plants do not get nitrogen from the air but the soil. Various microorganisms convert ammonia to other types of nitrogen compounds that are simple for plants to use. In other words, plants can get their nitrogen indirectly from the air but via microorganisms in the soil and via the plants’ roots.


Typically the earth atmosphere has 78% nitrogen gas or N2. Though there is nitrogen in the air, not much can be found in the earth’s crust. Some of the rare minerals that have nitrogen are the saltpeter, small living organisms on earth, plants, and animals.

Some of the found use of nitrogen other than agro is in the chemical industry such as nylon, nitric acid, dyes, medicines, and explosives.