Sustainable fertilization in Oil Palm plantations
by using controlled release fertilizers

Sustainable fertilization in oil palms is being essential now and in the near future to be able to meet the governmental standards, legislations and requirements of retail organizations.

Especially losses of nitrogen by leaching, volatilization or N2O emissions reduce the efficiency of the applied nitrogen fertilizer dramatically which in today’s farming is no longer acceptable.

While the use of fertilizers in oil palm plantations is very important to maximize yields, there are high risks of nutrient losses in the tropical environment the crop is grown. High losses can occur due to heavy rainfall by run-off and leaching as well as N emissions due to surface applications of urea (containing) fertilizers. From research it is known that not only nitrogen can possibly be lost, but also potassium - which is seen as one of the most important nutrients in gaining the yield expectations for oil palm.

Controlled release (coated) fertilizers are relatively new in the agricultural market and offer a predictable and consistent release of nutrients in a specific period of time. Since the amount of nutrients released daily is small and goes in line with plant uptake requirements, this sort of fertilizers could be an ideal tool to reduce nutrient losses and optimize the Nutrient Use Efficiency (NUE).

However, a higher NUE can only be realized when the nutritional program is tailored to crop needs and climate conditions. ICL started to develop specific controlled release fertilizer compositions, for immature and mature stages, based on the E-Max coating technology. These formulas contain coated nitrogen as well as potassium.

Based on scientific- and field research, it shows that by using these controlled release fertilizers in the right release durations, fertilizer applications could be reduced to 1-2 per year and application quantities lowered with 30%. The lower fertilizer inputs will also result in less transportation of goods into the plantations.
Yields could be increased in the mature phase in parallel, so that cost vs benefit is positively affected.

These improvements on NUE should contribute to the RSOP certification and a more sustainable fertilization in the oil palm industry in general.

Mr. Ronald Clemens
Global Market & Product Development Manager CRF
ICL Specialty Fertilizer


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