Oil palm fruits: Palm oil represents a considerable proportion of the Gross Domestic Product of many tropical countries, large numbers of people depend on it.
Photo: ©Katja Rembold/University of Göttingen


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Making palm oil production more sustainable without reducing the yield seems to be possible, new research indicates.

Environmentally friendlier palm oil production could be achieved with less fertiliser and no herbicide, while nevertheless maintaining profits, researchers from University of Göttingen, Germany, announced in November 2019. These are the preliminary results of the first two years of a large-scale oil palm management experiment. The research was published in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change

In 2016, the German-Indonesian Collaborative Research Centre “Ecological and Socioeconomic Functions of Tropical Lowland Rainforest Transformation Systems (EFForTS)” set up an experiment in an oil palm company estate in Jambi province, Sumatra, in collaboration with the Indonesian national company PTPN6.

Fertiliser input was set to one of two levels: either low, compensating for the nutrients that are removed by the harvest; or high, corresponding to the industry standard for fertiliser-usage, which is roughly twice as high.

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