invisible hit counter Application of Precision Farming to Palm Oil - 10 Downing Nyc

Oil palm is the most profitable agricultural commodity and has high commercial value, widely used in the tropical world. Palm oil is an essential sector supporting the economy in several countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. Indonesia itself ranks first as the largest palm oil producer in the world with a production of 17.13 million tons (2021). This figure makes Indonesia the world’s largest exporter of palm oil, which currently accounts for 45% of global palm oil production.

To increase profits, various palm oil companies have carried out massive extensification. It’s not uncommon for large corporations to expand their land through unconstitutional means such as slash-and-burn and illegal logging. Such methods are still common in recent years, for example in the conversion of peatlands into palm oil plantations. Of course, this is unjustifiable as it will have negative impacts on various environmental factors such as soil, air, land, and water.

In addition, these methods also lead to a reduction in arable land and continuing deterioration in agriculture. The results of the study show that unsuitable environmental conditions for oil palm can reduce productivity by 28-41% and yield by 0.6-2.5%. To overcome this, the concept of precision farming was introduced as a solution to the pressing problem of chaotic resource management in oil palm plantations.

The concept of precision farming first emerged and was adopted by the United States House of Representatives in 1997. Essentially, precision agriculture focuses on (1) the introduction of spatial and temporal sensing technology (e.g., detection, monitoring, analysis, and prediction). location-specific information; (2) integration of application-oriented technologies; (3) Maximizing available resources and minimizing waste and negative environmental impact.

There is no denying that the concept of precision farming has the potential to increase crop profitability, optimize available resources and minimize waste and losses. Some examples of precision agriculture applications include soil monitoring, crop yield monitoring, weather monitoring, land mapping, intelligent irrigation, and financial management in agribusiness.

Unsurprisingly, the market share for precision farming applications will increase to about 13.81% from 2018 to 2026. The countries that have adopted precision farming are divided into four main regions namely: North America (the US, Canada, and Mexico), Asia Pacific (China, India, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) and the Middle East and Africa.

GREAT OPPORTUNITIES

Applying the concept of precision farming to palm oil plantations in Indonesia offers tremendous opportunities. This activity includes the process of detecting, monitoring, forecasting, and analyzing each production line from pre-harvest to post-harvest. The concept of precision farming can be implemented in oil palm plantations in three main areas, namely crop management, land, and water.

Crop management involves the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčoptimizing resource use and yield production while minimizing waste and losses, in line with the goals of precision agriculture. Crop management refers to the logical combination of agricultural techniques to manage the physical, biological, and chemical environments of plants. Examples of the application of precision agriculture to crop management include predicting oil palm yields, detecting maturity, and predicting chemical levels.

Recently, researchers have developed a wearable device to detect oil palm maturity based on an inductive sensor with 100% accuracy.

Water management in oil palm is a crucial aspect and this is the goal of applying the concept of precision farming. Because oil palm growth is highly dependent on water availability, effective water management can increase production. Water management is performed using various sensors to monitor and then predict and vary water demand according to site-specific weather conditions. Ultimately, this leads to harvest optimization and water savings. The implementation of precision farming through intelligent irrigation can reduce water consumption by 30% and reduce operating costs with less labor.

Finally, the land is a heterogeneous natural resource that hosts diverse communities to maintain ecosystem functions. Good soil management in palm oil plantations directly affects crop yields, plant growth, and efficient resource use. Soil management includes aspects such as soil temperature conditions, texture, density, porosity, contours, and others. The output of soil management is that there can be recommendations for suitable sites for oil palm cultivation. Even good soil management allows plantation workers to collect and track detailed information from soil conditions to the oil palms.

MAIN CHALLENGE

The implementation of precision farming in oil palm is a complex issue as it faces many unpredictable environmental factors, often perceived as noise. The interpretation of various information from plants, water, and soil is sometimes ambiguous. However, artificial intelligence algorithms can overcome this. A collection of data is analyzed and modeled using artificial intelligence to build an expert system as a basis for decision-making.

The biggest challenge for precision farming on palm oil plantations is internet connectivity. This is because most precision farmers use the internet known as IoT (Internet of Things) for the process of analysis and data transmission. It’s nothing new anymore when the location of the plantation is a place isolated from the internet connection.

Therefore, it is time for plantation companies to invest in technology, including applying internet networking to plantations to support precision farming. Therefore, applying precision farming to palm oil plantations will bring various benefits such as to reduce operating costs and increase the productivity of the oil palm.

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