Mulching with pruned fronds promotes the internal soil N cycling and soil fertility in a large-scale oil palm plantation

2021 | journal article; research paper. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Mulching with pruned fronds promotes the internal soil N cycling and soil fertility in a large-scale oil palm plantation​
Formaglio, G.; Veldkamp, E. ; Damris, M. ; Tjoa, A. & Corre, M. D. ​ (2021) 
Biogeochemistry154(1) pp. 63​-80​.​ DOI: 

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Formaglio, Greta; Veldkamp, Edzo ; Damris, Muhammad ; Tjoa, Aiyen; Corre, Marife D. 
Abstract Intensive management practices in large-scale oil palm plantations can slow down nutrient cycling and alter other soil functions. Thus, there is a need to reduce management intensity without sacrificing productivity. The aim of our study was to investigate the effect of management practices on gross rates of soil N cycling and soil fertility. In Jambi province, Indonesia, we established a management experiment in a large-scale oil palm plantation to compare conventional practices (i.e. high fertilization rates and herbicide weeding) with reduced management intensity (i.e. reduced fertilization rates and mechanical weeding). Also, we compared the typical management zones characterizing large-scale plantations: palm circle, inter-row and frond-stacked area. After 1.5 years of this experiment, reduced and conventional management showed comparable gross soil N cycling rates; however, there were stark differences among management zones. The frond-stacked area had higher soil N cycling rates and soil fertility (high microbial biomass, extractable C, soil organic C, extractable organic N, total N and low bulk density) than inter-row and palm circle (all p ≤ 0.05). Microbial biomass was the main driver of the soil N cycle, attested by its high correlation with gross N-cycling rates (r = 0.93–0.95, p < 0.01). The correlations of microbial N with extractable C, extractable organic N, soil organic C and total N (r = 0.76–0.89, p < 0.01) suggest that microbial biomass was mainly regulated by the availability of organic matter. Mulching with senesced fronds enhanced soil microbial biomass, which promoted nutrient recycling and thereby can decrease dependency on chemical fertilizers.
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SFB 990: Ökologische und sozioökonomische Funktionen tropischer Tieflandregenwald-Transformationssysteme (Sumatra, Indonesien) 
SFB 990 | A | A05: Optimierung des Nährstoffmanagements in Ölpalmplantagen und Hochrechnung plot-basierter Treibhausgasflüsse auf die Landschaftsebene transformierter Regenwälder 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Büsgen-Institut ; Abteilung Ökopedologie der Tropen und Subtropen 



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