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Maintaining Soil Health

Unsustainable agricultural activities can cause long-term deterioration of soil health and soil structure. It is vital to follow good agricultural practices to sustain our productivity and safeguard the environment.

We promote topsoil fertility by maintaining organic matter at an appropriate level for specific soil types. To do this, we reuse cleared vegetation, including cut fronds from harvesting or pruning to return nutrients to the soil. Waste biomass from our mills, including boiler ash and dried decanter solids, are applied to enhance soil quality. We also protect soil health by planting leguminous cover crops after replanting old oil palms.

Moss growth, soft grasses, and ferns are encouraged under mature oil palms. This type of ground cover limits the growth of weeds and helps to minimize the depletion of soil organic matter from exposure to sunlight and erosion. In hilly regions, where the angle of slopes falls within the limits defined by legal or voluntary codes, we plant oil palms in terraces to trap rainwater, reduce surface runoff, and minimize soil erosion.

Reducing Chemical Use

We optimize and reduce our use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and substitute with organic alternatives where possible. Musim Mas employs an integrated pest management (IPM) system that combines biological, physical, and chemical tools to reduce reliance on pesticides and herbicides and decrease the concomitant economic, health, and environmental risks. This includes encouraging the growth of the barn owl population to manage common pests such as rats in our estates.

We apply fertilizers following agronomic recommendations based on soil and leaf analyses. This approach minimizes waste and ineffective fertilizer application. We also apply boiler ash from our mills in peatland areas to maintain pH levels and use dried decanter solids in place of potassium on sandy soil to increase moisture retention and improve marginal soils’ physical and chemical properties.

Musim Mas is guided by international standards and best practices on excluding chemicals that are considered hazardous for workers and harmful to the environment. Since 2011, we have banned the use of paraquat in all our plantations, including those operated by affiliated smallholders. Under the POIG Charter and its indicator requirements, grower members are also committed to not using any chemicals identified by the World Health Organization as Class 1A or 1B, or those listed on the Stockholm or Rotterdam Conventions, the FSC’s ‘Highly Hazardous’ list, or the prohibited pesticide list published by the Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Network.

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Our Efforts Towards Reducing Chemicals

Ensuring Adequate Protection for Our Workers

Musim Mas has established two policies for a labour force that detail the requirements and procedures related to the utilization of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during pesticide application. These policies prohibit women from applying pesticides during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. All workers handling chemicals are provided regular training organized by estate management teams on appropriate application and health and safety procedures. We also provide free regular medical check-ups for workers handling chemicals.

Monitoring Toxicity Levels

We monitor the toxicity levels of the pesticides we use as part of our efforts to ensure that the minimum dosages applied meet workers’ health and safety requirements while still producing effective agricultural results. The use of pesticides applied in each of our operations is tracked daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

The toxicity levels of the pesticides in use have remained relatively stable. The range of toxicity units per hectare is also aligned with best practices within the palm oil industry.