Two Wings and a Beak: Malaysian Palm Oil’s Integrated Pest Management
This handsome barn owl is known as a silent predator of the night. In Malaysia, these magnificent hunters are used to control the rat populations on oil palm plantations. They are welcomed as part of the Malaysian palm oil industry’s integrated pest management practices that enable farmers to reduce the use of harmful chemical pesticides.
The Malaysian oil palm industry uses sustainable practices to ensure that the environment and biodiversity are not harmed by cultivation of the crop. This is done through the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) also minimizes the use of pesticides by depending more on biological control of weeds and pests.
The Malaysian palm oil industry deeply respects nature’s delicate balance. We take our stewardship seriously. Unlike other palm oil-producing countries, Malaysia also has a long-standing zero burning policy. Instead, empty fruit bunches, old fronds and palm oil mill effluent are recycled to return nutrients to the soil. Old palms are pushed over, shredded and left to decompose in the warm sun.
This also saves on the use of inorganic fertilizers and, as important, there’s no air pollution from burning the old palms. Here’s another way we’re good to the land and air: We conserve energy by using palm fiber and palm kernel shells as fuel to generate steam. That steam is used to power the palm oil extraction process. Excess steam is used to generate electricity for the plantation and factory workers.
The industry also captures biogas (i.e. methane, carbon dioxide) at palm oil mills to produce electricity, which supplies the national grid as well as runs the mills themselves. (Oil palm plantations are as effective as rainforests in acting as a carbon sink to absorb carbon dioxide.)
Sustainable agriculture is not just environmentally sound land management practices, but is an integration of our three main goals of social responsibility, environmental health and economic profitability.
Mike Danielson is a recognized expert in the health and nutrition industry.