1 Formation and characteristics of an Ultisol in Peninsular Malaysia utilized for oil palm production Arolu Ayanda Fatai1, Jusop Shamshuddin1, Che Ishaq Fauziah1, Othman Radziah1and Mohsen Bohluli11Department of Land Management, Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia Correspondence to: J. Shamshuddin ([email protected])Keywords: Acid soil, Oil palm, Soil fertility, Soil mineralogy, Ultisol Abstract Most of the soils in the upland areas of Peninsular Malaysia are classified as Ultisols. Oil palm production on these soils is usually limited by their inherent low soil productivity. However, the crop is cultivated successfully on most of the soils following right soil management practices. A study was conducted in Bera, Malaysia to determine the characteristics and fertility of an Ultisol cropped to oil palm for many years continuously. In this study, the soil in the plantation was sampled, analyzed and classified. The soil under study was formed under tropical environment with udic moisture regime on fine-grained sedimentary rocks mixed with tuffs of Permian age. Due to very long exposure to the condition of high temperature and high rainfall throughout its development, the soil in the area was reddish in color, clayey, deep and highly weathered. The study found that the clay fraction of the soil was dominated by kaolinite, hematite, goethite and gibbsite; hence, the CEC and basic cations were low. Besides, soil reaction was acidic in nature with soil pH slightly below 5, but the exchangeable Al was more than 1 cmolc/kg soil. However, it was believed that these inherent characteristics were not expected to significantly affect the production of oil palm grown on the soil. With proper agronomic practices, the area can be utilized for oil palm production sustainably. 1.0 Introduction Solid Earth Discuss., Manuscript under review for journal Solid EarthDiscussion started: 26 July 2017c Author(s) 2017. CC BY 4.0 License.
2 Oil palm is the main agricultural commodity in Malaysia that has helped transform its growing economic development. The country, as the second world largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia, has most of its total planted area under matured palms. This shows how significant palm oil industry is to Malaysia, which is a leading exporter of palm oil, producing 26% of the global trade and 11% of oils and fat production to meet world demand (Malaysia Palm Oil Board, 2015). Presently, more than 5 million ha of land in the country is cultivated to oil palm, producing up to 17.73 million tonnes of palm oil and 2.13 million tonnes of palm kernel oil in a year. The oil palm industry is rapidly expanding due to the increased demand for oil palm products, which is expected to drive oil palm cultivation to a projected worldwide area of about 38 million hectare by 2050 (Corley, 2009), making palm oil the dominant vegetable oil in the globe (Rajanaidul et al., 2000). This implies a need for a higher degree of efficiency in the production of the commodity to meet its increasing demand at the marketplace.
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