Good Management Practices
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) address economic, environmental and social considerations. Our management practices are based on a thorough evaluation of agricultural practices and associated inputs. This will help us to:
- Promote sustainable agriculture
- Improve the efficiency of our operations
- Mitigate the risks of non-compliance with national and international regulations or voluntary codes of conduct
At Musim Mas, sustainable agriculture starts with choosing an appropriate land type and adopting the right method of land clearing. We have a strict zero burning policy in developing new Plantation or replanting of aged plantations. We use mechanical means to stack the debris or existing biomass in windrow. The biomass is then left to decompose, providing nutrients to nurture the soil. While the mechanical means of land clearing may be expensive but we recognise that this method is more environmentally sustainable.
The Group also maintains teams of highly trained firefighters across its plantations. All plantations are well equipped with fire-fighting equipment. Our fire brigades often assist the district and provincial governments in Riau and Central Kalimantan to fight fire outbreaks. We also conduct regular capacity building initiatives for local communities.
Holistic Waste Management
In the quest for environmental and economical sustainability, we have a holistic waste management system for our mills with the aim of achieving “zero discharge.” The main aim is to harness waste as useful materials or minimise waste, so that the impact of our operations on the environment is mitigated.
A holistic waste management solution for a particular mill will depend on the seasonal inputs to the mill, local site condition, energy requirements, mill design, crop type variations, among others.
The following diagram lists the three categories of waste from mills and how these are harnessed:
To find out more on how the liquid waste POME is treated and turned into methane gas, and subsequently captured for use as biogas to produce electricity, please click here.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests or weeds, by combining biological, cultural, physical and chemical tools in a way that minimises pesticides or herbicides, thereby reducing economic, health, and environmental risks.
For example, we encourage the growth of barn owl population on our estates as the species serves as an effective natural predator of rats. This helps to control the number of rats in the plantations. Rats are considered a menace in the oil palm plantations, as they feed on the young palm stems of immature palms; and feed on palm fruits in matured trees. A pair of barn owls typically consume about 1,500 to 1,800 rats per year. Barn owls can hunt over vast areas, travelling up to five to seven kilometers in one night.
Another example is the flowering plant, Cassia Cobanensis. It provides nectar as a food source for parasitoids associated with the nettle caterpillar and bagworm, the common leaf-eating pests in oil palm plantations. A parasitoid spends a large part of its life obtaining nourishment from its host organism, ultimately killing and preventing its host’s reproduction. With Cassia Cobanensis, there will also be a corresponding reduction in parasitoids.
With the projected increase in the world’s voracious demand for edible oils, advances in the techniques of selective breeding will bring about increases in the oil yield of the oil palm trees, without a dramatic corresponding increase in the required planted area.
Currently, oil palm breeding consists of selecting the best traits of different palms to produce offsprings with improved properties. Breeders have the options of either using simple tools such as selecting the specific palms, or leveraging on complex methods such as molecular markers.
Molecular markers help to identify a particular aspect of Phenotype and/or genotype, which can help predict the palm offspring that will be an improved variety. This will in turn shorten the classical process of selective breeding.
At Musim Mas, we have a plant breeding station, also known as the Genetic Research Centre (GRC). The GRC aims to provide the best planting materials to generate optimal oil yields for the Group’s plantations. First established in 2011 with elite breeding lines from renowned oil palm seed producers, the land area stands at 246 hectares, comprising of the seed garden and other buildings such as office, staff and worker housing, laboratory and store.
Water Management and Riparian Zones
Ground and Surface Water Quality Management
As water security and usage rights become a growing concern, we are cognisant of the need to protect our water resources in and around our concessions. We have implemented a holistic water management plan to maintain and protect the quality and availability of surface and ground water, both for our future growth and for our neighbouring communities.
As an example, our Palm Oil mill effluent are treated beyond the required regulatory levels before they are being applied as fertiliser to the soil, so as to maintain water quality.
Riparian Zone Management
A Riparian buffer zone is an interface between a river (or stream) and land. It runs parallel to the water body. Sedimentation and chemical runoff can severely interfere with aquatic life. Riparian zones help screen out problems such as soil erosion or chemical runoffs which can severely interfere with aquatic life, and helps maintain or even enhance water quality. These buffer zones can also facilitate biodiversity for the landscape.
As a legal requirement for land development or oil palm cultivation, we maintain a 50-metre (from the river bank) Riparian buffer zone for small rivers, and 100-metre buffer for wide rivers.
In addition to requirements of the legal and voluntary codes, we have strengthened the monitoring process by keeping track of water quality and noting the presence of birds, butterflies, reptiles and small mammals in Riparian zones.
We have also rehabilitated some Riparian areas by working with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to identify native trees to be replanted in the area. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ministry in March 2009.
One of the main criticisms of unsustainable agriculture is the long-term deterioration of soil health and soil structure.
As a Perennial Crop , oil palm offers many environmentally friendly benefits as compared with annual crops. Perennial crops are crops that are alive year-round and are harvested multiple times before being removed. One of its benefits is reduced soil erosion. In comparison, annual farming causes fields to fallow between growing seasons and offers less root mass throughout the growth cycle, leaving fields vulnerable to wind and water erosion. This erosion destroys topsoil which then pressures the microbial and plant populations. In contrast, perennial plants develop much greater root mass and protect the soil year-round.
In addition, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) entail enhancing topsoil fertility by maintaining organic matter levels to a satisfactory equilibrium for the soil type. For example, we reuse cleared vegetation in new plantings, and return the cut fronds from harvesting or pruning. We also enhance organic matter levels by adding waste biomass from our mills, such as empty fruit bunches and decanter solids.
During replanting when the old palms are cut down, we will plant appropriate legume cover crops right after clearing, to improve the fertility of the soil. As for the older crops, we will encourage moss, soft grasses or ferns under older palms in place of competitive weeds. This ground cover slows the depletion of soil organic matter from the effects of sunlight and erosion.
As for hilly areas, if the angles of the slopes fall within limits required by legal or voluntary code, we will construct terraces along the contour. The oil palms are subsequently planted on the terraces. This method can help minimise soil erosion and also trap rainfall along the terraces, reducing surface runoff.