25 Jul 2018

IPNI SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2018 - 2

Quarter 2, 2018


Thinking Outside the Box
Using Bayesian Networks to Predict Future Yield Functions with Data from Commercial Oil Palm Plantations: A Proof of Concept Analysis

Thinking outside the box implies finding creative solutions and ideas from looking at a problem differently. Starting with a final situation assessment to work backwards from that assessment is an approach of looking at a problem in a different way. IPNI SEAP has recently developed a novel approach that deploys this strategy to identify intervention opportunities that support sustainable yield intensification in oil palm.

“Big data” has become a new paradigm across many domains, including agricultural research. While the use of big data resources is thought to offer huge potential to agricultural, analysis of big data in agriculture has lagged behind other industries. The oil palm industry embraced the big data paradigm for years, routinely measuring an enormous array of environmental, agronomic and eco-physiological parameters. The data stored by estates presents a valuable yet largely untapped resource to support the development of sustainable palm oil management strategies. One issue is that raw data itself presents little if any economic value before it is transformed into valuable knowledge using appropriate analytical tools. At the same time traditional experimental paradigms and statistical methods are not well adapted to the analysis of agricultural big data. Machine learning algorithms including Bayesian and Neural networks that mimic human intelligence present options for the analysis of big data.

Such approaches could help plantation managers who are under intense pressure to make rapid management decisions about many issues, from personnel to strategy; from area to input. Decisions are frequently made under duress and based on intuition, which may lead to sub-optimal outcomes. Furthermore, managers might attach false confidence to their intuition, leading to impulsive decisions that are untested against data. Despite the obvious appeal to enlist available big data for decision-making, the potential for machine learning to help identifying and interpreting patterns in such oil palm data has yet to be harnessed.

IPNI SEAP explored how Bayesian networks can be trained from data sets collected through routine management from commercial oil palm estates. Find below recent proof-concept-study that demonstrates how trained Bayesian networks can assist estate managers.
RChapman-Bayesian OP Yields.pdfRChapman-Bayesian OP Yields.pdf

Supporting Responsible and Profitable Use of Fertilizer Nutrients in Myanmar

A recent feature article in Fertilizer Focus May/ June 2018 edition by Thomas Oberthür, Director and Tin Aye Maung, Advisor, International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) Southeast Asia Programme highlights the opportunities for responsible fertilizer market development in Myanmar. Introduction is shared below:

Since 2013, Canpotex and IPNI have been engaged in Myanmar to introduce concepts and principles of responsible crop nutrition. This was initially achieved through a series of seminars dedicated to agricultural decision-makers in government, universities and crop associations. Subsequently, commodity-specific field handbooks were produced in Burmese language to further disseminate basic crop nutrition knowledge among fertilizer dealers and farmers. As part of this engagement, in 2017, we conducted an assessment of opportunities for responsible fertilizer market development. The assessment was informed by secondary land use and production statistics and, deep field intelligence, generated using a participatory approach adapted by IPNI to the local conditions.

Click on pdf below to read on.
TOberthuer-Supporting Myanmar.pdfTOberthuer-Supporting Myanmar.pdf


No Issue with Rice Supply in Malaysia
“Malaysia is not facing any issue with regards its rice supply, assured Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry’s Padi and Rice Industry Division secretary Shamsuddin Ismail. He said the country produced 73 per cent of local rice and the rest was imported, based on a long-term contract.”

Source: News Straits Times, June 13, 2018

Impacts to Cambodian Economy from Climate Change Could be Worse than First Predicted: UNDP
“If the global rise in temperatures is kept below 2 degree Celsius by 2100 and Cambodia maintains current levels of investment in climate change adaptation, climate change will reduce Cambodia's GDP by 9.8 percent in 2050, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said. The UN agency said in a statement that reduced labor productivity - caused by workers slowing down or becoming fatigued due to higher temperatures - will be the main cause of GDP loss, accounting for 57 percent of the economic loss and damage caused by climate change in the country in 2050, citing a macro-economic report titled ‘Cambodia Climate Economic Growth Impact Model.’"

Source: News, June 5, 2018

Climate Change Might Bring More Rains to Indonesia
“Higher levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to a wetter Indonesia and a drier Amazon, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in the US have identified an unexpected but major factor in this worldwide precipitation shift: the direct response of the forests themselves to higher levels of CO2.”

Source: Asian Scientist, May 14, 2018

Sugar Output Enough to Meet Local Demand, US Quota, Agency Says
“The Philippines’ sugar production will be enough to meet local demand and, at the same time, satisfy allotments for the country’s US quota for this crop year, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said. Although ‘scarcity of cane cutters’ has delayed harvests in certain areas, production targets will still be met this year, Hermenegildo R. Serafica, SRA administrator, said in a statement, referring to the 2.27 million metric ton (MT) target set for this year.”
Source: Business World, May 11, 2018

Agriculture Department Encourages Farmers to Plant Coffee
“The Department of Agriculture wants Filipino farmers to take up coffee farming.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol on Friday revealed his department's goal to make the Philippines self-sufficient in coffee by 2022.”

Source: CNN Philippines, April 13, 2018

Philippines Can Become Southeast Asia Coffee Tiger, Says Renowned Coffee Scientist
“The Philippines already has what it takes to make it the next Southeast Asia coffee tiger – according to the assessment made by Dr. Dave D’Haeze, a coffee scientist based in Vietnam who has seen record yields in Fine Robustas. He also noted the availability of land in the Philippines which are suitable for coffee farming.”

Source: GoodNewsPilipinas, April 10, 2018


Beyond the Plot: Technology Extrapolation Domains for Scaling Out Agronomic Science
Abstract: Ensuring an adequate food supply in systems that protect environmental quality and conserve natural resources requires productive and resource-efficient cropping systems on existing farmland. Meeting this challenge will be difficult without a robust spatial framework that facilitates rapid evaluation and scaling-out of currently available and emerging technologies. Here we develop a global spatial framework to delineate ‘technology extrapolation domains’ based on key climate and soil factors that govern crop yields and yield stability in rainfed crop production. The proposed framework adequately represents the spatial pattern of crop yields and stability when evaluated over the data-rich US Corn Belt. It also facilitates evaluation of cropping system performance across continents, which can improve efficiency of agricultural research that seeks to intensify production on existing farmland. Populating this biophysical spatial framework with appropriate socio-economic attributes provides the potential to amplify the return on investments in agricultural research and development by improving the effectiveness of research prioritization and impact assessment. – J. R. Edreira, K. G. Cassman, Z. Hochman, M. K van Ittersum, L. van Bussel, L. Claessens, P. Grassini

Source: Environ. Res. Lett. 13: 054027 (2018)

Nutrient Use Efficiency in Perennial Fruit Crops – A Review
Abstract: Perennial fruits crops by the virtue of their nutritional qualities have already emerged as a major alternative, cutting short the menacing load on the consumption of traditional monotonous cereal/tuber crop-based diet. A nutrient management-based production system of perennial fruit crops is inherently complex to understand due to large variation in nutrient use efficiency (NUE). The current state of diagnosis of nutrient constraints in the current season-standing crop has minimum efficacy. Therefore, the development of production-linked nutrient norms using crop-specific index plant parts needs a thorough revisit at the orchard level using conventional basin irrigation versus fertigation. The application of hyperspectral analysis as proximal sensing of nutrient stress has started imparting precision to nutrient constraint diagnosis. On the other hand, the biggest constraint in making soil test ratings more purposeful is the non-redressal of spatial variation in soil fertility in the form of soil fertility analogs vis-a-vis fruit crops. The conjoint use of geoinformatics and Nutrient Experts as decision support tool(s) accommodating site-specific nutrient management strategy, newer concept of fertigation such as open-field hydroponics and variable-rate application as possible improvements in NUE collectively using a logical relationship between canopy volume and nutrient requirement, and exploiting further the nutrient–harmone and nutrient–microbe (in the consortium mode) synergies have yielded a definite edge over conventional methods of nutrient management options in fruit crops.– A.K. Srivastava and S.K. Malhotra

Source: Journal of Plant Nutrition, vol. 40: 13 (2017)

Nutrient Losses Through Runoff from Several Types of Fertilisers Under Mature Oil Palm
Abstract: This study was conducted to understand the effects of fertiliser type (straights, compounds and controlled-release fertilisers) on N, P, K and Mg losses by surface runoff. The study was conducted in a mature oil palm field using three 20 m by 6 m erosion plots containing two palms per plot with the soil type being Typic Kandiudults and slopes ranging from 5.5° to 7.5°. Nutrient losses were measured in the eroded sediment and runoff water for every rainfall event over a period of 24 months. Nutrient losses were higher in the runoff water than in the eroded sediments. Broadcast application of controlled-release fertilisers and its slow dissolving nature made it prone to washing down the slope. Hence, higher nutrient losses were observed in the controlled-release fertilisers compared to other treatments. Compound fertilisers showed lower total losses for N (4.96%), K (3.95%) and Mg (0.65%) compared to straight fertilisers. Lower P losses were observed in the straights compared to the compound fertilisers due to higher percentage of soluble P in the compound fertilisers. Controlled- release fertilisers recorded high nutrient losses in the sediments caused by the washout Except for nitrogen, controlled-release fertilisers recorded higher losses for P (56.56%), K (19.83%) and Mg (10.36%) compared to straight fertilisers. Nitrogen losses were 18.15% lower in the controlled-release fertilisers compared to straights. Compound fertilisers showed lowest losses for N and K compared to straight fertilisers. Based on the data, it is postulated that compound fertilisers can lead to better nutrient uptake compared to straight fertilisers. However, this hypothesis needs to be tested through field experiments measuring nutrient uptake and its effect on oil palm productivity. - V. Rajah, A. H. Mohd Hanif, C. Teh, Z. A Rahman, A. Xaviar

Source: Malaysian Journal of Soil Science 21:1 (2017)

Fertilizer Demand Update
The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) has updated its crop by crop estimate of agricultural fertilizer use for the first time since 2013. Applications to soybean and oil palm have both increased sharply.

Source: Fertilizer International (March-April 2018)

The Palm Oil Global Value Chain: Implications for Economic Growth and Social and Environmental Sustainability
Abstract: This document undertakes the challenge of reviewing the current global trends of the sector development while assessing its implications from multiple angles, including an examination of the main trends of oil palm expansion linked to an analysis of drivers and the decisive influence on the sector of political and institutional factors. This work also revisits the geographies of production, consumption and trade of palm oil and derivatives, and describes the structure of the global palm oil value chain, with special emphasis on Malaysia and Indonesia. In addition, this work reviews the main socioenvironmental impacts and trade-offs associated with the palm oil sector’s expansion, with a primary focus on Indonesia. Main interest is on the social impacts in local populations, smallholders and workers, as well as the environmental impacts on deforestation and their associated effects on carbon emissions and biodiversity loss. Finally, the growing complexity of the global oil palm value chain has also driven a more complex oil palm policy regime change to govern the sector expansion. This work also assesses the main features of this emerging policy regime, with emphasis on Indonesia. – P. Pacheco, S. Gnych, A. Dermawan, H. Komarudin, B. Okarda

Source: Working Paper 220. Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR (2017)

Convergent Evidence for Widespread Rock Nitrogen Sources in Earth's Surface Environment
Abstract: Nitrogen availability is a pivotal control on terrestrial carbon sequestration and global climate change. Historical and contemporary views assume that nitrogen enters Earth's land-surface ecosystems from the atmosphere. Here we demonstrate that bedrock is a nitrogen source that rivals atmospheric nitrogen inputs across major sectors of the global terrestrial environment. Evidence drawn from the planet's nitrogen balance, geochemical proxies, and our spatial weathering model reveal that ~19 to 31 teragrams of nitrogen are mobilized from near-surface rocks annually. About 11 to 18 teragrams of this nitrogen are chemically weathered in situ, thereby increasing the unmanaged (preindustrial) terrestrial nitrogen balance from 8 to 26%. These findings provide a global perspective to reconcile Earth's nitrogen budget, with implications for nutrient-driven controls over the terrestrial carbon sink.– B.Z. Houlton, S.L. Morford, R.A. Dahlgren

Source: Science, Vol. 360, Issue 6384: 58 - 62 (2018)

High Soil Calcium Saturation Limits Use of Leaf Potassium Diagnosis when KCl is Applied in Oil Palm Plantations
Abstract: Potassium chloride (KCl) is the most widely used fertilizer in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations and the rates applied are based on interpretation of leaf K contents. When no positive response on leaf K contents can be detected, no optimum content can be established whatever the yield response to KCl rates. We used data from 13 fertilization trials conducted on several continents to study the responses of leaf K, leaf Cl, leaf Ca and yield to KCl rates as a function of the soil properties of each site. We found that the abundance of exchangeable Ca in the soil expressed as a percent of the cation exchange capacity was the best soil variable to predict if leaf K content would increase with KCl rates. In addition, we found that the leaf K contents of unfertilized controls at the end of the trials were also correlated with Ca/CEC. This ratio thus appears to be a better index of soil K reserves than soil exchangeable K content. – B. Dubos, V. Baron, X. Bonneau, A. Flori, J. Ollivier

Source: Experimental Agriculture, 1-11 (2017)


We have updated our SEAP Reference Database with references on the following topics: nutrition and crops such as oil palm, cocoa and sugarcane. For a complete listing of these references, please click here. For a complete listing of these references, please click here.


Press Release
IPNI Southeast Asia Program has disseminated the following press release in the second quarter of 2018:
Newsflash (14 June): IPNI Releases New OIL PALM 4R SERIES Pocket Guides to Help Improve Oil Palm Management

Published in INFOSAWIT (Mar-Jun 2018 edition):
INFOSAWIT Mar-Jun2018 Article (Part 1-4).pdfINFOSAWIT Mar-Jun2018 Article (Part 1-4).pdf

Published in BETTER CROPS (Number 2, 2018 edition):
BC-2018-2 cassava.pdfBC-2018-2 cassava.pdf

Published in FERTILIZER FOCUS (May/June 2018 edition):
FF_MayJun2018_Myanmar p56-61.pdfFF_MayJun2018_Myanmar p56-61.pdf

Quick Glance
Shared some photos we love in "Photo of The Month" on our website:

NEW BOOKS: IPNI Oil Palm 4R Series
    • Pocket Guide: Leaf Sampling Unit
    • Pocket Guide: Soil Sampling
    • Pocket Guide: Plant Sampling
    • Pocket Guide: Growth Measurements
Launched recently and presented at the International Oil Palm Conference (IOPC 2018) in Medan, Indonesia. Click here for more information about the pocket guides.


Asia Palm Oil Conference (APOC) and PALMEX Thailand 2018
16 - 17 August 2018
Krabi, Thailand

Malaysia Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS)
28 - 29 August 2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

5th International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference 2018 (IPOSC 2018)
19 - 20 September 2018
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

FOOD 2030: Towards Sustainable Agri-Food Systems
5 - 6 September 2018
University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

International Conference on Smallholder Targeted Agriculture 4.0 in Temperature Limited Cropping Systems – STATCROPS
20 - 21 September 2018
Africa Rice Center and the Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute,
University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

XIX Conferencia Internacional sobre Palma de Aceite
25 - 28 September 2018
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

10th PALMEX Indonesia 2018 & 7th Indonesia Palm Oil Conference (IIPOC)
9 - 11 Oct 2018
Medan, Indonesia

Oils and Fats International Congress (OFIC) 2018
16 - 18 October 2018
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

World Sugar Conference 2018
17 – 18 October 2018
Bangkok, Thailand

Agri Indonesia 2018
31 Oct – 1 Nov 2018
Surabaya, Indonesia

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Disclaimer: News from the Region is a selection of regional agriculture-related articles extracted from internet sources. IPNI does not verify, endorse, or take responsibility for the accuracy, currency, completeness or quality of the content in these sites. Due to the nature of this service, IPNI cannot always verify every single news item. Be sure to check with the official websites of the companies, universities, research centers, and government agencies before using any information in the IPNI SEAP Quarterly Newsletters or webpages, as IPNI cannot vouch for news items submitted by the public. Links to external websites are included for the sole purpose of providing easy access to the source. The inclusion of external hyperlinks does not constitute IPNI’s endorsement of the views expressed by these websites. IPNI shall not be responsible for any damages caused directly or indirectly by the use of any information or content from within linked websites.

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