Paraquat for oil palm
Global production of palm oil has now overtaken soybean oil to be the world’s leading vegetable oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a multi-stakeholder not-for-profit association designed to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil. Board members include the Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil Associations, Unilever, Marks & Spencer, WWF and The Body Shop. RSPO has published a set of Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. These include that growers:
- Minimise erosion
- Ensure the quality of surface and groundwater
- Use integrated pest management (IPMDescription A decision support system for crop protection which focuses on long-term prevention or suppression of pest problems with minimum impact on human health, the environment, and non-target organisms. IPM takes into consideration all available pest control techniques and tactics (cultural, mechanical, biological, chemical). IPM emphasizes the growth of healthy crops for better productivity with the least possible disruption to agroecosystems. Authoritative On-line References and Resources http://www.ipmcenters.org "The USDA's National Site for the Regional IPM Centers' Information System provides information about US commodities, pests and pest management practices, people and issues.") techniques to protect crops from weeds, pests and diseases
- Use agrochemicals in a way that does not damage health or the environment
Soil erosionDescription Displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock and other particles) usually by the agents of currents such as, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement. Authoritative On-line References and Resources http://soilerosion.net/ This site brings together reliable information on soil erosion from a wide range of disciplines and sources. It aims to be the definitive internet source for those wishing to find out more about soil loss and soil conservation. on sloping ground is especially serious. Up to 14 tonnes per hecatre of soil have been estimated as being removed every year. Plantations affected cannot be re-planted and new land must be found.
“Paraquat has always given good value, with fast and effective weed control, especially of difficult weeds like ferns, woody shrubs and volunteer oil palm seedlings, even in the rainy season. These days, it is important to use paraquat to prevent weed succession problems caused by glyphosate.”
- Professor Gembira Sinuraya, North Sumatra University, Indonesia
Paraquat can be used to manage the vegetation in plantations not only to reduce competition to the oil palms, but also to maintain habitats and minimise soil erosion.
Oil Palm fact file
- 15 million ha of oil palm grown worldwide
- 50% increase since 2000
- 80% grown in Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria
- 10% of Malaysian workforce employed in oil palm related industry
- 6000 litres/ha of biodieselDefinition Mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats for use in diesel engines. It refers to pure fuel before blending with conventional diesel fuel. Blends are denoted as, "BXX" with "XX" representing the percentage of biodiesel contained in the blend (ie: B20 is 20% biodiesel, 80% petroleum diesel). Authoritative On-line References and Resources http://www.eere.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/biodiesel.html The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has an Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center containing key information on all biofuels. can be produced
Weed management plays a central role in IPM. Initially, plantation floors are cleared of vegetation, but are usually sown with legume cover cropsDescription Cover crops are primarily planted not to be harvested for food but to reduce soil erosion, control weeds and improve soil quality. They are usually plowed or tilled under before the next food crop is planted, in which cases the "cover crop" is used as a soil amendment and is synonymous with "green manure crop." Authoritative On-line References and Resources http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/covercrop.html ATTRA is the US National Centre for Appropriate Technology's Sustainable Agriculture Information Centre.. Circles around newly planted oil palms are kept weed-free to ensure the successful establishment of the crop.
Paths are sprayed-out for access and as the oil palm canopy develops, the cover crop becomes shaded out. This allows a wide range of weed species to invade and broad spectrum non-selectiveDescription A chemical product used for eliminating all types of weeds (annual and perennial grasses and broadleaved weeds). Authoritative On-line References and Resources http://www.weeds.iastate.edu/ An invaluable source of contemporary information about herbicides and weeds from Iowa State University. herbicides are used to control these.
Extensive field trials and practical experience have shown the advantages of using an integrated approach to weed management by, for example, using two spray rounds of paraquat products followed by one of glyphosate. This program keeps a controlled presence of soft weeds and removes noxious weeds.
A controlled presence of soft weeds maintains the balance of the weed flora and prevents aggressive perennialsDescription Weeds that return year after year. Some die back in the winter but their roots remain alive and shoots reappear in spring; some don't die back and grow in size and stature the next season. Authoritative On-line References and Resources The International Weed Science Society represents individual associations around the world. becoming dominant simply because bare ground for them to colonise is less available. Paraquat is specifically recommended for managing ferns.
Paraquat only desiccates weed shoots and has no residual effect in the soil. This helps to resist soil erosion as roots bind the soil and new vegetative growth intercepts rain drops, dissipating their eroding effect.