Here’s How Fertilizers Can Boost Your Oil Palm Production
Malaysia is the second largest producer and exporter of oil palm in the world, with more than 35% of the world’s oil palm coming from Malaysia. Staying competitive is a challenge as Malaysia needs to keep up with global demand.
As much as 5.74 million hectares on land in Malaysia is planted with oil palm. Production rates vary from year to year, as it is influenced by environmental factors like the weather, amount of rainfall and humidity. Global warming has made the weather unpredictable, and this has made oil palm production uncertain too. For example, the fresh fruit bunch yield in 2015 was 18.48 tons per hectare but this dropped to 15.91 tons per hectare in 2016 due to dry weather and reduced rainfall.
One important strategy in ensuring that the productivity of the crops are optimized, and this can be done by ensuring that fertilizers are sufficient. Fertilizers can boost your oil palm productivity in a few ways.
Providing the Main Nutrients
Agriculture land that has been used for more than a decade may lose its full supply of nutrients for crops, especially minerals like Nitrogen (N), Phospate (P) and Potassium (K). If this land is continuously replanted with oil palms, they may suffer from a lack of nutrition which leads to smaller leaves, shorter trunks and less heavy fresh fruit bunches. Therefore, providing oil palm plantations with enough NPK is the first step in optimizing production, especially in older plantations.
Boosting the Oil Palm’s Immune System
Palms are susceptible to several diseases, mostly caused by infectious fungi. One of the most widespread diseases among oil palms in Malaysia is Ganoderma boninenseor white rot fungus. It causes the oil palm to crumble and rot from within as it absorbs all the nutrients from the palm.
Needless to say, palms that are weak and lacking in nutrients are more susceptible to infection and will have a higher chance of not surviving the attack. Ganoderma can be controlled by fungicides, but the palms themselves have to be strong enough to withstand the entire treatment process.
Bigger Fruits and Leaves
Oil palms that have sufficient nutrition from fertilizers will usually grow bigger leaves. This will translate to a more robust metabolism, meaning that it can carry out photosynthesis at a much faster pace, and will therefore grow faster, bigger and stronger.
At the same time, apart from larger fresh fruit bunches, healthy and thriving palms will also produce larger fruits that have more flesh. This would also mean more oil can be extracted from these fleshy fruits.
Extension or Productive Life Span
Oil palms usually have a productive life span of between 15-20 years. However, by ensuring that your palms get sufficient fertilizers, you can potentially push this number up to 25 years. This means that you can get more productive years from an individual palm, and bring down the costs needed for replanting in the long term.
Palms with sufficient nutrition will live longer as they’re less sensitive to disease and environmental damage from pollutants or toxins.
Overall Increase in Yield
When used correctly, fertilizers will generally lead to an increase in yield. In the case of oil palms, this translates to an increase of fresh fruit bunches. Good Malaysian fertilizers will contribute an increase in income when you choose correctly. In fact, some planters have reported that their yield increased by about 30-50% after the usage of fertilizers. However, an increase of even 10% will no doubt affect conditions in a positive manner.
Adding fertilizers to your plantation can mean a world of difference. In general, it can only mean positive effects for you and your operations without needing to overspend or to take complicated steps.