09 Oct 2018

IPNI Studies Shed Light on Oil Palm Fertilizer Management in Sandy Areas with Occasional Water Deficit

October 9, 2018. Penang, Malaysia – The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) has published a paper, "Fertilizer management effects on oil palm yield and nutrient use efficiency on sandy soils with limited water supply in Central Kalimantan" in the journal of Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems*. This paper is the output of a collaborative project with the University of Goettingen and was sponsored by K+S KALI GmbH.

The IPNI Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) team analyzed a four-year trial within an oil palm plantation operated by PT Sampoerna Agro Tbk. The plantation is located in a sandy area with occasional monthly water deficit. The authors examined the responses of oil palm yield and nutrient use efficiency to fertilizer application frequency (standard frequency of 1 to 2 times per year versus 4 times per year) and fertilizer rate (standard rate of 136, 12, and 200 kg/ha/year of N, P, and K, respectively, versus 80% of the standard rate).

The results showed that there were no treatment effects on the annual fresh fruit bunch yield, bunch number, or individual bunch weight. Increasing fertilizer frequency did not increase nutrient use efficiency during the last two years of the trial. In contrast, reducing fertilizer rate resulted in higher nutrient use efficiency for K, compared to the standard treatment rate and increasing fertilizer frequency. Average concentrations of N, P, K, Mg, Ca, and Cl in palm leaflets under all treatments were above the critical concentrations both in the beginning and at the end of the trial. Monthly yield in fresh fruit bunch correlated positively with soil water balance with correlation coefficients of 0.24 to 0.29, during the developmental period of inflorescence sex differentiation at 28 to 30 months before fruit maturity.

This study raises important questions on optimization of fertilizer management practices in sandy areas with occasional water deficit, corresponding to most of the areas newly expanded into oil palm in Southeast Asia.

* Tao, H.H., C. Donough, J. Gerendas, M.P. Hoffmann, A. Cahyo, H. Sugianto, R. Wandri, G. Abdul Rahim, M. Fisher, R.P. Rötter, K. Dittert, L. Pardon, T. Oberthür. 2018. Fertilizer management effects on oil palm yield and nutrient use efficiency on sandy soils with limited water supply in Central Kalimantan. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-018-9948-0

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About IPNI
The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) is a not-for-profit, science-based organization dedicated to the responsible management of plant nutrition for the benefit of people. Through cooperation and partnerships with respected institutions around the world, IPNI adds its strength to agronomic research, education, demonstrations, training, and other endeavors. Best management practices for nutrient stewardship encourage the concept of 4Rs - applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. To learn more about IPNI, please visit: www.ipni.net

Dr. Thomas Oberthür, IPNI Director of Southeast Asia Program
Email: toberthur@ipni.net

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