We strive to maintain the quality and fertility of our soil in order to sustain high yields. We enrich our soils with right amount of organic and inorganic fertilisers. Whenever possible, we recycle back palm organic matter to the plantation in the form of Empty Fruit Bunches (EFB) and compost to improve soil health. The deployment of best soil conservation practices that includes planting of leguminous cover crops, reduces soil erosion and improves soil properties. These legume cover crops also enrich soil nitrogen through the fixation of free atmospheric nitrogen.
Through its extensive Research & Development resources, FGV through its associate Felda Holdings Berhad has adopted a proactive approach to counter numerous challenges that could adversely affect the sustainability of oil palm if left unaddressed.
These include developing best clonal material to ensure higher yield, improving efficiency at harvesting stage and combating diseases such as basal stem rot of the oil palm plant.
Today, Felda is amongst the world’s top three largest producers and planters of non-GMO clonal palms. The Group’s breeding programmes continue to develop incremental improvements to oil yield. By using clonal techniques and marker assisted selection programmes, we are able to accelerate the production of planting material with the desired traits.
Some of our research breakthroughs already underway includes a molecular marker that will screen planting material susceptible to basal stem rot disease. We will also be introducing a patented screening technology for virescense palms, whose fruit colour visibly turns from green to orange upon ripening, to make manual harvesting more precise, and lay the foundations for automatic ripeness scanning and possible mechanisation in the future.
Another pillar supporting Felda’s sustainable palm oil programme is the use of ‘biocontrols’ in integrated pest management aimed at controlling significant palm oil pests such as rats, bagworm, and oryctes beetle. The integrated approach employs a combination of natural or benign pest control methods ,with minimal use of pesticide, to reduce damages caused to the crop by pests.
Some of the biocontrol methods adopted by the Group include the use of barn owls in our plantations to reduce the population of rats that eat the palm fruit, harness the services of hymenoptera wasps to keep bagworm under control. At the same time it also minimises the use of pesticides while monitoring the oryctes beetle population through the use of pheromone traps.
FGV never shies away from practices that can abate pollution, especially so in our operation near environmentally sensitive area. The recent one being the setup of Bio Dewatering Plant and Bio Polishing Plant at its subsidiary, Pontian United Plantation (PUP), in Sabah, East Malaysia.
With the dewatering plant, PUP’s Pontian Fico palm oil mill is able to remove solids from its effluent whilst the polishing plant is able to further filter the effluent water to achieve below 20 ppm (parts per million) of biological oxygen demand (BOD), which is a mandatory requirement by the Department of Environment for mill located in the vicinity of the Kinabatangan river. FGV continues to strive for better environmental protection particularly around its plantations and assets through best agriculture practices and best management practices.