Reducing Fertilizer and Avoiding Herbicides in Oil Palm Plantations - Ecological and Economic Valuations

2019 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Reducing Fertilizer and Avoiding Herbicides in Oil Palm Plantations - Ecological and Economic Valuations​
Darras, K. F. A. ; Corre, M. D. ; Formaglio, G.; Tjoa, A.; Potapov, A. ; Brambach, F.   & Sibhatu, K. T.  et al.​ (2019) 
Frontiers in Forests and Global Change2.​ DOI: 

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Darras, Kevin F. A. ; Corre, Marife D. ; Formaglio, Greta; Tjoa, Aiyen; Potapov, Anton ; Brambach, Fabian ; Sibhatu, Kibrom T. ; Grass, Ingo ; Rubiano, Andres Angulo; Buchori, Damayanti ; Drescher, Jochen ; Fardiansah, Riko; Hölscher, Dirk ; Irawan, Bambang; Kneib, Thomas ; Krashevska, Valentyna ; Krause, Alena ; Kreft, Holger ; Li, Kevin ; Maraun, Mark ; Polle, Andrea ; Ryadin, Aisjah R.; Rembold, Katja ; Stiegler, Christian ; Scheu, Stefan ; Tarigan, Suria ; Valdés-Uribe, Alejandra; Yadi, Supri; Tscharntke, Teja ; Veldkamp, Edzo 
Oil palm plantations are intensively managed agricultural systems that increasingly dominate certain tropical regions. Oil palm monocultures have been criticized because of their reduced biodiversity compared to the forests they historically replaced, and because of their negative impact on soils, water, and climate. We experimentally test whether less intensive management schemes may enhance biodiversity and lessen detrimental effects on the environment while maintaining high yields. We compare reduced vs. conventional fertilization, as well as mechanical vs. chemical weed control (with herbicides) in a long-term, full-factorial, multidisciplinary experiment. We conducted the experiment in an oil palm company estate in Sumatra, Indonesia, and report the results of the first 2 years. We measured soil nutrients and functions, surveyed above- and below-ground organisms, tracked oil palm condition and productivity, and calculated plantation gross margins. Plants, aboveground arthropods, and belowground animals were positively affected by mechanical vs. chemical weed control, but we could not detect effects on birds and bats. There were no detectable negative effects of reduced fertilization or mechanical weeding on oil palm yields, fine roots, or leaf area index. Also, we could not detect detrimental effects of the reduced fertilization and mechanical weeding on soil nutrients and functions (mineral nitrogen, bulk density, and litter decomposition), but water infiltration and base saturation tended to be higher under mechanical weeding, while soil moisture, and microbial biomass varied with treatment. Economic performance, measured as gross margins, was higher under reduced fertilization. There might be a delayed response of oil palm to the different management schemes applied, so results of future years may confirm whether this is a sustainable management strategy. Nevertheless, the initial effects of the experiment are encouraging to consider less intensive management practices as economically and ecologically viable options for oil palm plantations.
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Frontiers in Forests and Global Change 
SFB 990: Ökologische und sozioökonomische Funktionen tropischer Tieflandregenwald-Transformationssysteme (Sumatra, Indonesien) 
SFB 990 | A | A02: Wassernutzungseigenschaften von Bäumen und Palmen in Regenwald-Transformationssystemen Zusammenfassung 
SFB 990 | A | A03: Untersuchung von Land-Atmosphäre Austauschprozesse in Landnutzungsänderungs-Systemen 
SFB 990 | A | A05: Optimierung des Nährstoffmanagements in Ölpalmplantagen und Hochrechnung plot-basierter Treibhausgasflüsse auf die Landschaftsebene transformierter Regenwälder 
SFB 990 | A | A07: Räumlich-zeitliche Skalierung des Einflusses von Landnutzung und Klimawandel auf Landnutzungssysteme in Indonesien 
SFB 990 | B | B06: Taxonomische, funktionelle, phylogenetische und biogeographische Diversität vaskulärer Pflanzen in Regenwald-Transformationssystemen auf Sumatra (Indonesien) 
SFB 990 | B | B07: Functional diversity of mycorrhizal fungi along a tropical land-use gradient 
SFB 990 | B | B08: Struktur und Funktion des Zersetzersystems in Transformationssystemen von Tiefland-Regenwäldern 
SFB 990 | B | B09: Oberirdische Biodiversitätsmuster und Prozesse in Regenwaldtransformations-Landschaften 
SFB 990 | B | B13: Impact of management intensity and tree enrichment of oil palm plantations on below- and aboveground invertebrates in Sumatra (Indonesia) 
SFB 990 | C | C07: Einflussfaktoren von Landnutzungswandel und sozioökonomische Auswirkungen für ländliche Haushalte 
Zentrum für Biodiversität und Nachhaltige Landnutzung ; Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Büsgen-Institut ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Bioklimatologie ; Abteilung Forstbotanik und Baumphysiologie ; Abteilung Ökopedologie der Tropen und Subtropen ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie ; Abteilung Waldbau und Waldökologie der Tropen ; Abteilung Agrarökologie 



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