Category Archives: 2021 Vol 33 June

OIL PALM ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE IN MALAYSIA AND R&D PROGRESS IN 2020 – Review Article

The year 2020 faced unprecedented challenge for most of the global economic growth due to the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Despite a downward trend performance of the Malaysian oil palm industry, particularly for the first half of 2020, the impact is less severe due to the encouraging palm oil export revenue through the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) which nurtures a notable increase in crude palm oil (CPO) price. In honouring the Malaysian pledge on forest conservation, land expansion for the oil palm cultivation remains stagnant over the years. The effort is now shifting towards enhancing the oil palm yield performance through new planting materials and good agricultural practices, coupled with systematic pest and disease management. Sustainability continues to be the key agenda of the oil palm industry, in moving forward to sustain the industry ecosystem. The industry is now open for innovative palm oil processes to comply with the dynamic and stringent food safety and quality standards and trade regulations. Owing to the distinction in food and feed applicability together with health prospects, translating the information into consumer-friendly language is becoming crucial for effective communication. Valorisation via the concept of ‘waste to wealth’ has compelled series of innovations in capitalising oil palm co-products for greener bioenergy and oleochemicals, and source of phytonutrients to generate higher earnings without having to heavily rely on palm oil trade as commodity. Mandatory enactment of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme has portrayed a success story of showing the utmost commitment towards sustainability. With persistent dedication, the oil palm industry is envisaged to be self-sustaining, amidst the never-ending challenges surrounding economy, well-being and environment.

SOIL FUNGAL COMPOSITION AND DIVERSITY IN OIL PALM PLANTATION AT SUNGAI ASAP, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA

A study was carried out to compare the soil fungal composition and diversity in oil palm plantation with the adjacent secondary forest at Sungai Asap, Sarawak, Malaysia using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Findings revealed that soil fungal composition in the oil palm plantation was significantly different compared with undisturbed secondary forest (SF1) and disturbed secondary forest (SF2) by forming three main clusters as shown in the principal component analysis (PCA). Furthermore, DGGE profile revealed that the banding pattern of oil palm planted area (OPPA) remained diverse throughout the assessment years. However, DGGE banding patterns of SF1 and SF2 showed similarities as noted in the dry season (June 2011) whereby both clusters were overlapped. The composition of soil fungal community in oil palm plantation was dominated by fungi from the phylum Ascomycota whereas secondary forests were dominated by fungi from Basidiomycota. Biodiversity indices showed that the soil fungal diversity in SF1 was higher than SF2 and OPPA. It was postulated that there was possible interactions between soil fungal communities with plantation activities thereby soil fungal communities were shifted in order to acclimatise with new environments in the plantation.

A PROOF-OF-CONCEPT STUDY: DETERMINING THE GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN OF CRUDE PALM OIL WITH THE COMBINED USE OF GC-IMS FINGERPRINTING AND CHEMOMETRICS

Current administrative controls used to verify geographical provenance within palm oil supply chains require enhancement and strengthening by more robust analytical methods. In this study, the application of volatile organic compound fingerprinting, in combination with five different analytical classification models, has been used to verify the regional geographical provenance of crude palm oil samples. For this purpose, 108 crude palm oil samples were collected from two regions within Malaysia, namely Peninsular Malaysia (32) and Sabah (76). Samples were analysed by gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometer (GC-IMS) and the five predictive models (Sparse Logistic Regression, Random Forests, Gaussian Processes, Support Vector Machines and Artificial Neural Networks) were built and applied. Models were validated using 10-fold cross-validation. The area under curve (AUC) measure was used as a summary indicator of the performance of each classifier. All models performed well (AUC 0.96) with the Sparse Logistic Regression model giving best performance (AUC = 0.98). This demonstrates that the verification of the geographical origin of crude palm oil is feasible by volatile organic compound fingerprinting, using GC-IMS supported by chemometric analysis.

THE DYNAMIC OF CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) EMISSION AND LAND COVERAGE ON INTERCROPPING SYSTEM ON OIL PALM REPLANTING AREA

Oil palm replanting has faced environmental criticism as it is a source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. The aim of this study was to determine the level of CO2 emissions and the value of carbon stocks for oil palm smallholders replanting. The measurements were taken using the infrared gas analyser (IRGA) method for CO2 emission. Non-destructive methods were used to measure carbon stocks for oil palm-stands while destructive methods were used for understorey and intercropped plants. This study shows that there was dynamic of CO2 emission during the replanting averaging (t CO2 ha–1 yr–1) 28.5 for 28-year old oil palm, 59.0 for bare land after land clearing, 47.0 for intercropped plants in the vegetative phase, 51.6 for intercropped plants in the generative phase and 42.9 for one-year-old oil palm. It was found that CO2 emissions were reduced due to the conditions of land coverage and that the reduction in CO2 emissions occurred not only because of the absorption of CO2 by plants for photosynthesis but also due to being stored away, as much of the carbon stock (t C ha–1) was found in corn (10.2), legume cover crops (7.6), soyabeans (3.5) and natural vegetation (2.8). In 28-year old oil palm it was found to be at 74.7.

BLENDED PALM FRACTIONS AS CONFECTIONERY FATS: A PRELIMINARY STUDY

The study looked into the mouldability of cocoa butter alternative (CBA) from blended palm fractions namely palm mid fraction (PMF) IV 45, palm kernel oil (PKO) and palm stearin (POs) IV 33 and IV 14 for the production of chocolate bar. PMF, PKO and POs IV 33 and IV 14 were blended in eight different optimised ratios based on solid fat content (SFC) response of more or close to 50% at 20°C, SFC of less than 10% at 37°C and SFC of less than 5% at 40°C to produce a melt in the mouth and mouldable plain chocolate bar. Mouldability and snappability of the chocolate bar were the main parameters of the study. Physicochemical properties of the fat blends namely the fatty acid composition (FAC), triacylglycerol composition (TAG), solid fat content (SFC), crystallisation rate at isothermal temperature of 5ºC, 10ºC and 20ºC, thermal behaviour, polymorphism, crystal morphology and compatibility test with cocoa butter (CB) for selected fat were also determined. Fat F blend with 91% PMF, 1% PKO, 5% POs IV 33 and 3% POs IV 14 showed the highest SFC (47%) at 20ºC and was able to be moulded and demoulded at 10ºC by 45 min. It has the highest rupture tension (105.28 gfcm-2) and breaking force (5501 gf) at 10ºC. The composition of oleic acid, linoleic acid, total monounsaturated fatty acid, crystal morphology (density) as well as SFC profile at 20°C and crystallisation rate profile at 5°C, 10°C (after 40th min) and 20°C (before 35th min) of fat F were comparable with CB while other FAC, TAG, thermal behaviour and polymorphism were dissimilar to CB. Fat F, 10%-30% was observed to be compatible (no eutectic) with CB and therefore, has the potential as fat for chocolate bar. The addition of 10%-30% of fat F to CB increased the SFC to 57% at 20°C. Fat F (30%) with CB could be demoulded by 30 min and produced snappability (breaking force) of 5032.71±85.91 gf at 20°C after one day stabilisation period. Palm-based fat blend having 91% PMF, 1% PKO, 5% POs IV 33 and 3% POs IV 14 and CB has the potential to be used as alternative fat for chocolate bar which can eventually benefit the confectionery industry.

METHANOLIC EXTRACTION OF FREE FERULIC ACID FROM OIL PALM

Ferulic acid, a hydroxycinnamic acid, is known to exhibit anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a valuable compound for various applications. Study was conducted to investigate the extraction of free ferulic acid (ferulic acid that is not linked to lignin or other biopolymers) in the oil palm fruits, pressed fibre, empty fruit bunches, as well as its leaves, termed as frond. The extraction of free ferulic acid from these palm components was carried out using an alcoholic solution at various sample to solvent ratios. With the exception of fresh sterilised fruits, varying the sample to solvent ratio did not seem to have significant effect on the amount of ferulic acid extracted. Similarly, except for empty fruit bunch and sterilised fruits, the amount of ferulic acid extracted was not affected by the conditions of the samples (fresh or dried) prior to extraction. The free ferulic acid content in oil palm fruits, pressed fibre, empty fruit bunches and oil palm frond ranged from 230-670 mg kg-1.

QUANTITATIVE APPROACH FOR IRRIGATION REQUIREMENT OF OIL PALM: CASE STUDY IN CHUPING, NORTHERN MALAYSIA

The right decision is needed before the irrigation project starts because it is risky, costly and required a sitespecific approach. The study aims to estimate oil palm irrigation water demand by using FAO-CROPWAT model. Study was conducted in Chuping Region, Northern Peninsular of Malaysia. Four points were selected to represent North, East, West and South for soil sampling. The samples were sent to a laboratory to measure the water content after pressure applied at 0, 1, 10, 33 and 1500 kPa. Total available water holding capacity was found at 105-227 mm for 100 cm soil depth and the lowest value was selected to be used in FAO-CROPWAT model, developed by Land and Water Development Division of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Prior to that, history of 14 years of monthly meteorological data were collected and serve as climatic data for potential evapotranspiration calculation. Based on the simulation, crop evapotranspiration (ETc) and irrigation requirement (IR) was 1175 and 255.2 mm yr–1 respectively. Total net irrigation was concluded at 132 mm yr–1 with the assumption of 80% irrigation efficiency and 5.0 mm of irrigation input. Through this study, FAO-CROPWAT found to be a suitable approach to estimate crop water requirement (CWR) for oil palm and simulate irrigation scheduling for the entire year. It can help to strategise the management plan prior to any irrigation project design and increase potential for good economic return.

XYLAN RECOVERY FROM DILUTE NITRIC ACID PRETREATED OIL PALM FROND BAGASSE USING FRACTIONAL FACTORIAL DESIGN

Pretreatment enhances bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass by disrupting and changing the properties of its material. This work is intended to examine the influence of several variables involved in the recovery of xylan from oil palm frond bagasse (OPFB) in the pretreatment of diluted nitric acid. Through a fractional factorial design of 25−1 the temperature variables ranged from 37°C–90°C, time of reaction varied from 6–24 hr, solid loading ranged from 5%–20%, concentration of acid changed from 0.01%–1.0%, and agitation between yes or no were evaluated. As much as 27.63% of xylan successfully recovered at mild condition and it was completely hydrolysed as the pretreatment condition increased. This study found solid loading of 5% and acid concentration of 0.01% at 37°C for 24 hr pretreatment without agitation were best to maximise xylan recovery and minimise lignin content simultaneously. Temperature was the most important factor studied for the recovery of xylan with a contribution of 29.34%. The findings suggest that studying the condition influencing acid pretreatment is crucial towards improving pretreatment process

SOIL CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) EFFLUX RATE AND OIL PALM YIELD FROM DIFFERENT PEAT TYPES IN SARAWAK, MALAYSIA

Tropical peatlands have different characteristics as compared to temperate peatlands in terms of organic materials and topography. It is important to understand the soil characteristics for improving crop management practices. A study was conducted to investigate the effects of different types of peat on soil carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions and oil palm yield in Sarawak. The study area was classified as Naman (Oa) and Kenyana (Oawu) series using the Malaysian Unified Classification of Organic Soils (MUCOS). Soil CO2 efflux was determined by using a portable CO2 analyser at monthly intervals from eight observational plots setup in each 10 ha study plot. The oil palm fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield was recorded since the first year of harvest (i.e. after about 30 months field planting). Results showed that the average soil CO2 efflux was the highest in Naman series plot (4.89±0.36 µmol CO2 m-2 s-1) compared to Kenyana series plot (4.44±0.37 µmol CO2 m-2 s-1). However, FFB yield was recorded 40% higher at Naman plot compared to Kenyana plot. Higher FFB yield in Naman plot was related to its soil consisting of sapric materials that have more nutrients available for the crop, while Kenyana plot consisted of sapric materials together with undecomposed wood that might hinder the palm growth. This study suggests that different types of peat have significant effects on oil palm yield and soil CO2 emissions. The site-specific and peat soil management based on its characteristics is important for oil palm growth and performance especially for enhancing FFB yield and improving environmental management.

INVESTIGATION ON THE EFFECT OF MONOGLYCERIDE CONCENTRATION ON PALM OIL BASED ALKYD RESIN PREPARATION

Alcoholysis and esterification are useful methods to prepare polyalkyds from vegetable oils. Reaction parameters and different concentration of raw materials have showed a significant role on the properties of the formulated polyalkyds. The formation of monoglyceride (MG) and diglyceride (DG) during the synthesis and their ratio may have a significant role on the properties of the polyalkyds. The goal of the present paper was to investigate the effect of MG to DG ratio on alkyd resin synthesised from palm oil by alcoholysispolyesterification reactions catalysed by homo-hetero catalytic system. Different ratios of MG:DG were obtained from alcoholysis reaction by taking samples at different reaction times. The formation of the alkyd resin was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy with the presence of ester group (C-O-C). The molecular weight of alkyd resin was determined by gel permeation chromatography (GPC). The alkyd resin prepared at higher MG:DG ratio exhibited higher initial rate of polyesterification reaction with higher molecular weight. In addition, the film of alkyd resin prepared from higher MG:DG ratio presented better pencil hardness and chemical resistivity.

EXPRESSION OF CADHERIN GENE IN Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1A TOXIN RESISTANT AND SUSCEPTIBLE STRAINS OF Tirathaba mundella

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt.) insecticide has since been used as an essential insecticide in commercial oil palm plantations to manage insect pests. Resistance against Bt. toxins has been reported in many pest insects and threatening the effectiveness of Bt. insecticide. However, the insecticide resistance capability of Tirathaba mundella (T. mundella) was not well documented due to its finite molecular data. In this study, the potential of insecticide resistance development in T. mundella was examined through bioassay and cadherin gene expression analysis. Cadherin gene which often associated with the resistance against Bt. toxin was amplified and its relative expressions were studied using quantitative polymerase chain reactions. T. mundella collected from the plantations with frequent exposure to Bt. insecticide was found to develop resistance to Cry1A with a significantly lower cadherin gene transcript level and lower mortality compared to the susceptible strain. Besides, a relatively lower level of cadherin gene expression was found in the early development stages of the resistant strain. The adaptation of larvae to the Bt. insecticide may be caused by the irregular application of insecticide in the field.

EFFECT OF FEEDING PALM OIL SLUDGE AS PARTIAL REPLACEMENT OF MAIZE IN GROWING-FINISHING PIGS ON THE GROWTH PERFORMANCE, NUTRIENT DIGESTIBILITY AND BLOOD PROFILES

The study was conducted to investigate the effect of dietary inclusion of palm oil sludge (POS) as partial replacement of maize in growing-finishing pigs on growth performance, nutrient digestibility and blood profiles.Twenty four crossbred (Large White Yorkshire x Hampshire) pigs of mixed sex (3-4 months of age) with initial body weight of 40.09±1.01 kg were randomly allotted to four dietary treatments in a randomised block design. Palm oil sludge was included in the diets at 0% (Group-1, control), 10% (Group-2), 20% (Group-3) and 30% (Group-4) to replace maize as energy source. The body weight gain, average daily feed intake, average daily gain and feed conversion ratio were similar across the treatment groups. The inclusion of POS in the diets had no effect on the haematological parameters, serum metabolites and lipid profile. The digestibility coefficient adverse of ether extract (EE) and crude fibre (CF) were not affected by dietary POS supplementation but dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), CF and nitrogen free extract (NFE) revealed significant (P<0.05) difference among the various treatment groups. In conclusion, POS can replace maize up to 30% in the concentrate diets without any detrimental effects on the growth performance, nutrient utilisation and blood biochemical parameters of growing-finishing pigs.

PHASE BEHAVIOUR OF HIGH, MEDIUM AND LOW MELTING FRACTIONS IN LAURIC FAT BLENDS FORMULATED BASED ON MELTING TRIACYLGLYCEROL GROUP

Lauric fat blends aimed for bakery shortening were prepared as a ternary mixture characterised by three distinct melting peaks on their differential scanning calorimeter (DSC) melting thermograms. Those melting peaks closely correlated to the high, medium, and low melting fractions (HMF, MMF, and LMF) in the blends. In the simpler binary mixture, hard fats, (i.e. palm stearin and fully hydrogenated rapeseed oil) formed an ideal solubility in different liquid oils [i.e. medium chain triacylglycerol oil (MCT-oil) and high oleic sunflower oil (HOSO)]. However, slight deviations from ideality were observed when liquid oils were replaced by lauric oils (i.e. palm kernel oil and coconut oil). In the more complex ternary mixture, the HMF formed an ideal solubility in both the MMF and LMF within the range of given formulas. In addition, the interaction of solid crystals in lauric fat blends was of monotectic behaviour as shown in the isosolid diagram. Nevertheless, the influence of solubility seemed to override that of solid interaction. Both the solubility curves and isosolid lines can provide valuable information about the interaction of HMF, MMF, and LMF in lauric fat blends. Therefore, they are useful for improving the formulation of plastic fats.

ODOUR EXPOSURE LEVEL MEASUREMENT SURROUNDING PALM OIL MILL

Odorous gases such as ammonia and hydrogen sulphide produced by anaerobic bacteria are emitted when palm oil mill effluent is treated via anaerobic digestion. Although odour is a nuisance rather than a hazardous nature most of the times, sensory annoyance complaints provoke local authority to seek for feasible mitigation. Malaysian Department of Environment (DOE) under the jurisdiction of the Air Division has proposed an odour emission limit of 12 000 OUm-3 for palm oil mills recently. The objective of this paper is to establish the anaerobic pond odour concentration at palm oil mill using open ponding system for POME treatment, identify ammonia (NH3) and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas content in odour sample collected from respective anaerobic pond, and establish the odour concentration (OUm-3) at residential locations close to a palm oil mill using open ponding system, covered lagoons and tank digester for POME treatment. The odour sampling and assessment were performed according to MS 1963:2007 Air Quality – determination of odour concentration by dynamic olfactometry with enhanced VDI3940 Grid Method. Results showed that odour concentration at source of anaerobic pond ranged from 44 135-85 012 OUm-3 while hydrogen sulphide content ranged from 15.9-103.9 ppm and ammonia content ranged from 4.1-16.6 ppm. Odour concentrations at residential locations are often dominated by local odour sources such as chicken farms. Odour emission levels at all surveyed residential areas identified as palm oil mills origin were well below 10 OUm-3 most of the times although high level of up to 108.4 OUm-3 has been observed occasionally. Thus the proposed odour limit value needs to be reviewed and justified based on further study with focus on more data collection, odour control guidelines, community odour impact survey, inclusion limit values for odorous chemical substances, odour regulation framework, odour assessment methods and odour management plan guidelines.

ISOLATION AND CHARACTERISATION OF GIBBERELLIN 2-OXIDASE 6 GENE FROM OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.)

To increase our understanding on the role of Gibberellin (GA) metabolism in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), a gene encoding enzyme in GA catabolic pathways was identified and isolated. The oligonucleotide primers were constructed and used to amplify the EgGA2ox6 gene from oil palm. The sequence analysis of EgGA2ox6 gene provided a complete open reading frame (ORF) of 1014 bp which encodes 337 deduced amino acid residues. Homology sequence analysis has shown a 50%-70% sequence similarity to GA from other plant species. Based on this sequence motif analysis, the EgGA2ox6 is classified into C19-GA2ox group. Expression studies on 13 different oil palm tissues showed that the highest expression profile of the gene was observed in the mesocarp tissue. Further expression analysis was conducted on the development stages of mesocarp using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) showed that the gene was predominantly expressed in the early stages of mesocarp development at four weeks after anthesis (WAA). Then, the expression of EgGA2ox6 gene was gradually reduced as the fruit ripened. This preliminary study provides valuable resources to further elucidate the roles of GA2ox6 gene during oil palm fruit development.

GROWTH PERFORMANCE AND CARCASS TRAITS OF GOATS FED WITH OIL PALM BYPRODUCTS BASED FEED PELLET

The study was conducted to develop a nutrient-balanced goat feed pellet from oil palm by-products and to assess the effects of the feed pellet on growth performance and carcass traits of Katjang goats. Treatment groups consisted of oil palm by-products based (OPB), control without addition of oil palm by-products control (CNT), and commercial (COM) pellets. Twelve 12-months-old Katjang goats were assigned to the three treatment groups and subjected to 14-weeks of feeding trial. Each group was offered 1.5% body weight (BW) of respective pellets and ad libitum supply of Napier grass. Feed intake (FI) was recorded daily and the BW of the goats was recorded weekly. At the end of the feeding trial, all goats were slaughtered for carcass traits study. All treatment groups showed no significant difference in BW increment (p=0.51) and average daily gain (ADG) (p=0.94). There were no significant differences (p>0.05) between the treatment groups for carcass traits parameters. As a conclusion, the OPB pellet has shown to contain complete nutrient for goat’s diet and was comparable to the COM feed pellet in terms of growth performance of Katjang goat. The inclusion of oil palm by-products in the feed formulation did not adversely affect the carcass traits of the goats.

POTENTIAL OF Syncephalastrum racemosum AND Rhizopus arrhizus ISOLATED FROM OIL PALM TRUNKS PRODUCE CHITOSANS THAT INHIBIT THE GROWTH OF Ganoderma boninense

Chitosan has been proposed as a treatment to suppress Ganoderma infection on oil palm. Syncephalastrum racemosum and Rhizopus arrhizus, growing on oil palm trunk, were examined on their ability to produce chitosan. Chitinous materials from both fungi were deproteinised and deacetylated using different concentrations of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Chitosans from R. arrhizus (FuCsRa), S. racemosum (FuCsSr) were compared with crab shells’ chitosan (CrCs) through the Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. The deacetylation degrees of different chitosan sources were also determined. FTIR analysis showed that chitosans produced by these fungi and crab shell’s chitosan had a similar pattern of FTIR spectrum, but differed in their deacetylation degrees. The next experiment examined the ability of these chitosans to suppress the growth of Ganoderma boninense (G. boninense) in vitro. The experiment consisted of 11 treatments: controls, media with CrCs (at 5000 ppm, 7500 ppm, 10 000 ppm), media with FuCsRa (at 5000 ppm, 7500 ppm, 10 000 ppm), media with FuCsSr (at 5000 ppm, 7500 ppm, 10 000 ppm), and antagonistic test (S. racemosum; R. arrhizus). The results showed that CrCS at 5000 ppm, 7500 ppm and 10 000 ppm enhanced the growth of G. boninense. A concentration of 10 000 ppm of CrCs nearly doubled the growth of Ganoderma compared to control. FuCsSc inhibited the growth of G. boninense at all concentrations from -28% to 31% compared to control. The in vitro antagonistic effect of S. racemosum showed a high effect at inhibiting the growth of G. boninense (-43% compared to control). This in vitro study demonstrated the ability of chitosan extracted from fungi growing on oil palm trunks to suppress Ganoderma growth.