Estimating oil-palm Si storage, Si return to soils, and Si losses through harvest in smallholder oil-palm plantations of Sumatra, Indonesia

2023 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Estimating oil-palm Si storage, Si return to soils, and Si losses through harvest in smallholder oil-palm plantations of Sumatra, Indonesia​
Greenshields, B.; Lühe, B. von der ; Schwarz, F.; Hughes, H. J.; Tjoa, A.; Kotowska, M. & Brambach, F.  et al.​ (2023) 
Biogeosciences20(7) pp. 1259​-1276​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-20-1259-2023 

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Authors
Greenshields, Britta; Lühe, Barbara von der ; Schwarz, Felix; Hughes, Harold J.; Tjoa, Aiyen; Kotowska, Martyna; Brambach, Fabian ; Sauer, Daniela 
Abstract
Most plant-available Si in strongly desilicated soils is provided through litter decomposition and subsequent phytolith dissolution. The importance of silicon (Si) cycling in tropical soil–plant systems raised the question of whether oil-palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) cultivation alters Si cycling. As oil palms are considered Si hyper-accumulators, we hypothesized that much Si is stored in the above-ground biomass of oil palms with time. Furthermore, the system might lose considerable amounts of Si every year through fruit-bunch harvest. To test these hypotheses, we analysed Si concentrations in fruit-bunch stalks, fruit pulp and kernels, leaflets, rachises, and frond bases of mature oil palms on eight smallholder oil-palm plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia. We estimated Si storage in the total above-ground biomass of oil palms, Si return to soils through decomposing pruned palm fronds, and Si losses from the system through harvest. Leaflets of oil-palm fronds had a mean Si concentration of > 1 wt %. All other analysed plant parts had < 0.5 wt % Si. According to our estimates, a single palm tree stored about 4–5 kg Si in its total above-ground biomass. A smallholder oil-palm plantation stored at least 550 kg Si ha−1 in the palm trees' above-ground biomass. Pruned palm fronds returned 111–131 kg of Si ha−1 to topsoils each year. Fruit-bunch harvest corresponded to an annual Si export of 32–72 kg Si ha−1 in 2015 and 2018. Greater Si losses (of at least 550 kg Si ha−1) would occur from the system if oil-palm stems were removed from plantations prior to replanting. Therefore, it is advisable to leave oil-palm stems on the plantations, e.g. by distributing chipped stem parts across the plantation at the end of a plantation cycle (∼ 25 years).
Issue Date
2023
Journal
Biogeosciences 
Organization
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie ; Abteilung Physische Geographie 
ISSN
1726-4189
Language
English
Sponsor
Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2023

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