Browsing articles in "Establishment"

Establishment: Concluding Remarks

Bearing in mind that an oil palm planting would have more than twenty years of productive life before it has to be replanted, the inputs at replanting and during the palm establishment period as mentioned in this article are highly justified. A well planted and well maintained stand of oil palm would reward the planter with sustainable high early and mature yields, provided the other agro-management requirements (such as nutrition, pest control etc. which are not discussed here) of the palms are also well taken care off.


Establishment: Costing

Typical costings (Rossi et al, Unpublished) of some of the above operations for the first 12 months are summarized in the table below:

Work Operations
Cost (RM/ha)
Estate A
Estate B
Estate C
Legume planting
Holing and planting
Circle spraying
Spot spraying
Legume purification
Not available


Establishment: Weeding Operations in Immature Oil Palms

Weeds are plants growing in areas where they are not wanted and are more harmful than useful, even after their possible beneficial effects have been taken into account (Koch et al, 1983). Chung (1997) reported that since weeds can reduce crop growth and yield, interfere with harvesting, crop recovery and other agricultural operations, control measures are necessary.

According to Corley et al. (1976), the following four types of weeding operations will be necessary in areas where legume covers are maintained:

  • circle weeding of palm circles (Figure 14) – for young palms, circle weeding is normally carried out to prevent weed competition
  • strip weeding to provide access for harvesting and other field operations – more relevant for mature palms
  • selective spot weeding to remove noxious weeds from the legume covers or natural ground covers (Figure 15 and Figure 16) and
  • periodic control of legume covers if growth is too vigourous – de-creeping for example (Figure 17)

The various herbicide application techniques and their respective productivity are highlighted in Teoh (1991) and Chee and Chung (1998). The latter also recommended the types of herbicides to be used for controlling the different types of weeds.

Another necessary estate practice would be calibrating and checking to ensure the correct dosage of herbicides to be utilized for each equipment prior to the actual weeding work (Figure 18). It should be emphasized that the quality of herbicide application (correct dosage, proper usage of equipment and correct area of application) should precede that of quantity or productivity (how many hectares a person or equipment can do in a day) of applying the herbicides. It would be of no use spraying a large area but not getting the desired kill as inevitably, the job has to be repeated. The same principle should also apply to pesticide spraying i.e. controlling rhinoceros beetles with Cypermethrin.

With the usage of AA+ Mulch, better control of weeds and creepers is possible (Figure 19). Problems of phytotoxicity (Figure 21) and lower frond scorching are also reduced, as herbicide spraying is more easily carried out, thus promoting better palm growth (more leaf area with minimal scorching) resulting in high early yields. The AA+ Mulch would also be useful if planting is to be carried out in difficult areas such as in steep terrain areas, to reduce the need for frequent fertilizer applications and weed control (Figure 20) during the first year of planting.

With proper field upkeep i.e. timely and quality circle and spot spraying, the young immature oil palm field should look like Figure 22.


Establishment: Holing and Planting of Palms

The oil palms are preferably planted 1 month after the planting of legumes and the following are some of the normal planting operations:

  • lining (Figure 9)
  • holing (Figure 10)
  • final selection of nursery palms and transporting them to the field (Figure 11)
  • application of rock phosphates into the planting hole, removal of polybag and the actual planting (Figure 12)
  • firming up the base of the newly planted palm (Figure 12)

At palm planting, AA+ Mulch (Figure 13) with one year’s supply of fertilizer could also be utilized. Other benefits of this system would be discussed in section 4.0.


Establishment: Legume Planting

Besides protecting exposed soils (Figure 1) from risks of run-off and soil erosion, legumes play an important role in soil conservation in our humid tropics as exposed tropical soils weather rapidly, the soil structure deteriorates, the organic matter content decreases and nutrients are lost through leaching (Corley et al). Therefore, legumes are planted as soon as land clearing and preparation is completed to cover up the bare ground quickly. In addition, legumes also play a role in weed management (Chung, 1997) by smothering out the weeds.

In addition, legume species planted in oil palm areas are able to produce large amounts of organic matter as well as fix large quantities of atmospheric nitrogen. The total biomass of conventional legumes (P. phaseoloides and C. caeruleum) at the end of the third year was 5.9 tons/ha and with newer species of legumes i.e. Mucuna bracteata (Figure 8), total biomass of 17.2 tons and 12.1 tons on flat and terraced land respectively, can be obtained (Chee and Chung, 1998). Other beneficial effects of legumes have been reported by Gray and Hew (1968) and Broughton (1977).

Planting of legumes has evolved from the conventional “cangkul” method to the more modern “precision-seeder” (Figures 2 and 3).

Prior to sowing of the legume seeds, ground preparation such as ploughing of legume beds with a tractor drawn disc-plough and harrowing is carried out (Figures 4 and 5)

Legume establishment is expedited with applications of rock phosphate and ground magnesium limestones (Figures 6 and 7).


Oil Palm: Establishment


Legume planting
Holing and planting of palms
Weeding operations in immature oil palms
Concluding remarks


Oil palms are normally planted after land clearing and land preparation work, which includes lining, holing and terracing if the terrain is hilly. In low-lying areas, drainage would also be necessary. In most oil palm plantings, leguminous cover crops are also planted in the interrows as they are able to establish and spread much faster than other vegetation. The legumes should preferably be planted prior to planting the palms but in many instances, due to timing and other constraints, the oil palms are planted first.

The immaturity period of the palms, which would normally last approximately 30 – 36 months where ablation is done, begins from the moment of palm planting. In areas where no ablation is done, this is reduced to 24 months. Most planters would deem the immaturity period as the period where extensive field maintenance is required e.g. circle spraying, spot spraying, decreeping, manuring, pest control etc. to ensure not only high early yields be obtained, but also mature yields. This article highlights some of the work that a planter has to plan and carry out at the onset of oil palm planting particularly those related to legume establishment, holing and planting of the palms and the subsequent weeding operations. This article also complements the other two articles in the previous two issues of this annual report.

Ng H.C.P. and Tan C. C. 2003. Towards the establishment of a good oil palm planting. Annual Report 2002. Royal Johore Planters’ Association : 22-30.

Note: The full list of references quoted in this article is available from the above paper.