Knowledge

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.

Want To Be an Oil Palm Plantation Owner: Here Are 5 Things to Consider

Owning an oil palm plantation is hard work. In addition to investing time and energy, it also involves a high starting capital. Oil palm plantations take about 3-4 years before any fruits can be harvested.

However, if you choose to stick to owning an oil palm plantation, the returns can be rewarding in the long run. Here are the factors you’ll have to consider when you want to set up a plantation.

Credit: Craig Moray @ Flickr

  1. Availability of land

The first thing you’ll have to do is the scout for available agricultural land. The land you buy has to be gazetted as agricultural land by the state government. In Malaysia, smallholders usually own an average of 2-3 acres of plantation land. However, it can be as small as 0.5 acres or as much as you can afford.

  1. Availability of laborers

There are many steps you need to go through once you’ve acquired land for planting. First, you need to germinate oil palm seedlings, clear the land, apply fertilizers and more. You cannot do all these by yourself, so you need to hire laborers to help you.

These tasks are mostly very physically demanding, and you’ll need healthy workers with a lot of stamina. You will also need to budget for their salaries and pay them according to the minimum wage laws of this country.

  1. Availability of capital

This is the most important part of starting an oil palm plantation. You have to sit down and budget for the different aspects of this process. Here is where your research skills come in. You will have to list down each aspect that requires money, from hiring labor to purchasing seedlings, equipment, land, and more.

Capital can come from your own savings or from a bank loan. The government also offers loans to palm oil entrepreneurs from time to time, as very low-interest rates.

  1. Availability of time

Since an oil palm plantation takes a long time to produce any profit or income, you should either have savings to last for at least 5-7 years or an alternative source of income during this time.

The starting processes will be very time and resource consuming. You will have to clear the land, using tractors and manpower, before germinating seedlings in a greenhouse and then planting them. After that, you’ll have to maintain and monitor the oil palms continuously. All these take time, so you cannot afford to have a full-time job elsewhere.

  1. Ability to cover extra costs

As someone who wants to grow oil palms, you should also have some extra money budgeted to cover emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. For example, if there is too much rain for a certain year, harvests may be reduced. Similarly, there may be diseases that cause some of your young oil palms seedlings to die.

Having some extra resources to cope with unforeseen circumstances will help your plantation become more resilient in the future.

As we can see, it does take some amount of determination to be an oil palm planter. However, it is similar to other fields of work too, whereby hard work pays off in the end. You should also make wise decisions and consider all the costs and risks involved in this business.

Getting to know ‘Soil’

Soil can be found anywhere we go. No matter if you are gardening, or simply taking a walk in the park, the soil is always there. The importance and function of soil can be easily overlooked and ignored.

The soil is divided into three main parts, clay, silt and sand. These are the non-living parts of the soil. Other than these, the soil consists of the living part: microbes like fungi and bacteria. Next, there is the organic part which consists of decaying organisms, as well as air and water.

Soil helps to recycle dead animals and plants through the decomposition process. Decomposition is carried out by the microbes living inside the soil. This process is important to maintain the nutrient cycle in the environment. Other than that, soil protects the environment from floods, earthquakes and also aids in climate change.

Roles of microbes in the soil
The microbes in the soil carry out a variety of jobs. Some microbes assist to decompose dead animals and trees. Without the microbes, the dead bodies would pile out quickly in the environment. These microbes recycle the nutrients on the dead organisms and release them back to the soil, in order to be absorbed by other plants. These plants, in return, feed other creatures.

How soil helps in avoiding floods
Soil helps to protect the environment from flooding. Soil contains air and water pockets. These pockets absorb rainfall, which means that the rain is absorbed into the soil during storms. Less runoff means less tendency of flooding. Cities are more prone to flooding because of the lack of soil. Most of the terrain in cities is made of pavements or roads. The rain is unable to soak into these structures, therefore runoff takes place, causing the flood.

Hybrid Plants: What are they and how are they hybridized?

What are Hybrid Plants?

A hybrid means a mixture of two or more elements. Hybrid plants mean cross-pollinating plants from different varieties to produce seed and then growing the seed. The plant that results from the seed is known as the hybrid plant.

One of the main reasons why the hybridization of plants is practiced is for commercial use. Hybrid plants can be more disease resistant, have bigger or smaller flowers, tastier fruits or even nicer smelling flowers. The hybridization is done based on the commercial needs of the said plant.

How are Plants Hybridized?

The basis of hybridization is that pollen from a different variety of plants has to be used to pollinate a plant from another variety. As the first step, the stamen (male part of the flower) has to be removed from the plant that is to be pollinated. This is crucial to avoid self-pollination. Next, the pollen from another variety of plant is transferred manually to the pistil (female part of the flower) for pollination to occur.

If the pollination is successful, the fruit formed from the flower will be kept for further plantation to review the result. The plant that grows from the seed is the hybrid plant. If the results meet expectations, the hybridization will be repeated and more seeds will be produced and replanted.

Examples of Hybrid Plants

Some examples of hybrid plants include:

  1. Tangelo: cross between grapefruit and orange

 

  1. Plumcot: cross between plum and apricot