Utilizing Empty Fruit Bunches in Palm Oil Plantations

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Utilizing Empty Fruit Bunches in Palm Oil Plantations. Photo by: Palmoilmagazine.com

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – Using empty fruit bunches as organic fertilizer in palm oil plantations is highly feasible, though their benefits become evident in the second year of application. This practice demonstrates the environmentally friendly nature of palm oil cultivation.

Palm oil plantations boast the highest vegetable oil production, yielding up to 7 tons of crude palm oil (CPO) per hectare. Achieving high yields requires superior seeds, best practice management, appropriate fertilization, effective harvesting techniques, and high-standard CPO processing.

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The right fertilization is one significant thing in palm oil plantations to get high fresh fruit bunch (FFB) production and CPO which become the main sources of the companies. In general, there are two kinds of fertilization, they are, organic and inorganic one.

Also Read: Empty Bunch Fiber Potential: Dissertation by UI Doctoral Candidate

Inorganic fertilization is the fertilization uses chemical things that palm oil trees need to grow well and to produce highly. They could be Urea (Nitrogen), MOP (Kalium), TSP, RP (Phosphate), Kieserit (Magnesium), Dolomite (Magnesium), Borate (HGFB), particularly in peat, they could be Cu (CUSO4), Zinc (ZnSO4), Fero sulfat (FeSO4).

Organic fertilization is the fertilization uses organic materials both in natural or with the touch help of biotechnology. One thing about organic fertilization is to apply empty fruit bunches and liquid waste from the mill.

The Fertilization of Empty Fruit Bunches

The fertilization in palm oil plantation is empty fruit bunches because it is in lots of numbers or 20% FFB that is processed in the mill. A 45 ton/hour mill could process 900 tons of FFB per day and could produce 180 tons/day.

If a mill has incinerator that environment agency published a permit, the empty fruit bunches can be burned and could produce 10 % of husk ash or 18 tons per day. this can be advantaged as fertilizer in the plantations.

Empty fruit bunches which reached about 180 tons/day can be advantaged with the doze 35 tons/hectare in the plantations. It means, the plantations to be fertilized could be 5 hectares per day or 1.500 hectares/year if it is maximally or 100% done. In general, the advantage could be reaching 85% or empty fruit bunches fertilization could be reaching 1.275 hectares/year.

This is very potential and the plantations should take it for advantage. If not, there will be waste issue for the mill and plantations, such as, there would be fire, source of diseases, make the plantations in mass, and break the environment legal.

It happened in one big palm oil plantation company that did not advantage empty fruit bunches or did not burn in incinerator. After years, the empty fruit bunches was piled up and higher than the mill.

This delivered dangerous pest attacks in the plantations, such as, horn beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros). For it was urgent and dangerous for the plantations, the company had to get incinerator permit. After getting it, the empty fruit bunches was burned and poured to the plantations. In two years later, it was under controlled.

The Implementation

The fertilization implementation of empty fruit bunches that palm oil plantation companies do would be as follows:


  1. Determine the areas to be the spot of empty fruit bunches fertilization
  2. The areas to be should be in 5 kilometer in radius from the mill so that transporting empty fruit bunches would be faster and more efficient.
  3. It has to be the flat area or maximally wavy because if the area is hilly, it would be difficult to apply. If it has to, it would be difficult to apply per block.

The tress should be full stand and the application would be equal in every application spot.

  1. The area should be free from flood and water to be more effective in its application.
  2. Make the ways for tractors to pass by into the plantations using bulldozer D5. This would ease the tractors to get into the blocks because the land is flat and the application would be closer to each tree or not pile up along the ways.
  3. Make signs in the application areas so that the trucks or tractors that carry empty fruit bunchess would not be falling down to the areas to be applied.

By: Ahmad Hulaimi/Palm oil plantation practitioner

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