Directors of Research

Message From Director of Research: Mr. Tey Seng Heng

Welcome to Applied Agricultural Resources Sdn. Bhd., AAR. You will be able to find useful information here on plantation crops, particularly oil palm, rubber and cocoa. You may also learn about our commercial and research activities and perhaps discover services, products or studies of interest to you that you wish to pursue further for your own interest or the betterment of the industry.

AAR was established by a group of experienced agronomists and scientists (formerly from Highland Research Unit Sdn. Bhd. of Highlands & Lowlands Berhad and Selangor Coconuts Berhad) led by Mr. Chew Poh Soon in 1986. It was setup to facilitate research studies on tropical plantation crops and provide advisory services to two public listed plantation companies in Malaysia, namely Boustead Plantations Berhad (BPB) and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK). The company continued to grow under the leadership of Dr Soh Aik Chin who succeeded Mr. Chew in 2000. Its manpower and functions were expanded further by Dr Kee Khan Kiang from 2007. The baton was then passed to Mr. Goh Kah Joo in 2012 who strengthened the capability of the company for another 6 years before his retirement in April 2018. The efforts and endurances of the four former Heads/Directors of Research have propelled AAR into a reputable centre for research and development with operations spanning across Malaysia, Indonesia, Africa and Latin America.

Supported by our Principals (BPB and KLK) and backed by more than 65 research executives and 650 dedicated staff members and workers, we are currently serving more than 400,000 hectares of oil palm estates belong to our Principals and commercial clients in Malaysia, Indonesia, Liberia and Colombia.

Our primary aim remains the same i.e. to maximise the yield productivity of our Principals’ and clients’ plantations in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. Conventional agronomy and crop protection trials are still carried out to formulate good agricultural practices while the use of geospatial technologies and digital peripherals for planning and monitoring has been given greater emphasis. Our current planting materials are capable of producing up to 45 t/ha of fresh fruit bunch yield but the shortage of skillful harvesters has been a serious constraint of great concern. We are therefore keen to evaluate tools and work with engineers to fabricate machines for adoption to improve the efficiency of crop recovery, minimize crop losses and optimize usage of resources.

With years of experience as a major producer of elite DxP hybrid seeds and tissue culture ramets, we are now hinging on biotechnology to enhance our breeding capability and proficiency in micro-propagating high performing planting materials. Genomic information is being gathered and utilized to infer oil palm trait development, understand soma-clonal variation and develop markers for oil palm breeding selection. Genome-wide association studies are pursued to understand the pathogenicity and epidemiology of Ganoderma boninense.

Molecular techniques in microbiology are being explored to identify and assess the role of beneficial microbes that can restore soil fertility and reduce plant dependency on inorganic fertilisers. We also have a well-established chemistry laboratory to support our requirements in leaf, soil and fertilizer nutrient content analysis.

With the increasing size of operations and demands for transparency and sustainable development, timely information is of great importance to decision-makers. Conventional data analysis helps us to understand the past but we are excited about the advent of big data analytics that will allows us to discover patterns of events and predict outcomes. We see potentials in instrumenting trees, soils, waterways, crops, machines, drones and even workers with cameras, sensors and data recording devices to gather big and complex datasets for change detection, pattern recognition and trend analysis etc.

We are proud to be associated with an industry that feed and fuel the world, and generate many high-value jobs and career advancement opportunities for young professionals and managers. We welcome constructive suggestions and please feel free to drop us your views, comments and ideas. We are always keen and looking forward to collaborate with local as well as foreign organizations, universities and research institutions.