Crops

Managing basal stem rot in oil palm by converting infected logs to biochar

Image
Oil Palms in Papua New Guinea
Project code
CROP/2019/147
Program
Budget
AUD 159,888
Research program manager
Dr Eric Huttner
Project leader
Agnieszka Mudge, University of Queensland
Duration:
JUL 2020
2021
DEC 2021
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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Overview

This project aims to explore the feasibility of biochar as a method for removing infected material from oil palm blocks whereby the evidence will be used to inform a future business case for oil palm derived biochar production in Papua New Guinea

Oil palm is a long-term perennial crop of great economic importance in South-East Asia and the Pacific, providing much needed income to both large plantations and smallholders. Unfortunately basal stem rot, caused by the fungus 'Ganoderma boninense', poses an increasingly major threat to the oil palm industry.

The project will establish whether it is technically feasible and economically sensible to support the sanitation of oil palm plantations infected by Ganoderma, through the removal of infected logs and wastes and their conversion to biochar in Papua New Guinea.

If the project finds that biochar can be produced and used at an acceptable cost and price there are a great number of potential benefits to smallholders of deploying the practice at scale (which are listed below).

Expected project outcomes

  • Removing all infected material from blocks.
  • Mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration.
  • Enhancing soil quality through improved cation exchange and water retention capacity.
  • Enhancing beneficial soil micro-organisms.
  • Creating new business opportunities, for example to create peat-like but sustainable, stable and carbon-sequestering high value media products from waste for use in intensive industries such as nursery and floriculture production.
Key partners
University of Queensland, Australia, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association