Journal of Oil Palm Research Vol. 12 No. 1, June 2000, p. 25-45
SOIL NUTRIENT DYNAMICS AND PALM GROWTH PERFORMANCE IN RELATION TO RESIDUE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOLLOWING REPLANTING OF OIL PALM PLANTATIONS
The Policy of zero burning practices for replanting of oil palm plantations is currently considered desirable since it avoids air and water pollution and may also enable the development of more economically sustainable practices based on nutrient supply from organic matter management. Under the standard zero burning practices, young palms are planted between widely-spaced windrows of residues from the old stands. This practice maximizes the spatial and temporal uncoupling between the release of nutrients from the decomposing residues and plant uptake. An improved understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns of nutrient release and plant uptake will enable better management of the synchrony between these processes and greater conservation of nutrients. Studies were carried out on the establishment and growth of young palms planted into the palm residues which were chopped, shredded or pulverized without additional inputs of inorganic fertilizer. The preliminary results of palm responses to the techniques established were impressive as a consequence of improving nutrient synchrony and the beneficial effects of organic mulching on soil properties to crop production. It is concluded that these methods of planting and residue management improved the spatial integration of nutrient release and uptake by the rooting systems of young palms. The supply of nutrient requirement that is partly provided by the recycling of biomass can reduce the use of inorganic fertilizers to optimize growth rates of the immature palms. Savings in fertilizers resulting from these practices could reduce the production costs as well as contributing towards environmental conservation.KEYWORDS:
’ Malaysian Palm Oil Board,
P.O. Box 10620, 50720 Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.
** Department of Biological Sciences, University of Exeter, U.K.