24 Jul 2023
 | 24 Jul 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Large contribution of soil N2O emission to the global warming potential of a large-scale oil palm plantation despite changing from conventional to reduced management practices

Guantao Chen, Edzo Veldkamp, Muhammad Damris, Bambang Irawan, Aiyen Tjoa, and Marife D. Corre

Abstract. Conventional management of oil palm plantations, involving high fertilization rate and herbicide application, result in high yield but with large soil greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This study aimed to assess a practical alternative to conventional management, namely reduced fertilization with mechanical weeding, to decrease soil GHG emissions without sacrificing production. We established a full factorial experiment with two fertilization rates (conventional and reduced fertilization, equal to nutrients exported via fruit harvest) and two weeding methods (herbicide and mechanical), each with four replicate plots, since 2016 in a ≥ 15-year old, large-scale oil palm plantation in Indonesia. Soil CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes were measured during 2019–2020 and yield was measured during 2017–2020. Fresh fruit yield (30 ± 1 Mg ha−1 yr−1) and soil GHG fluxes did not differ among treatments (P ≥ 0.11), implying legacy effects of over a decade of conventional management prior to the start of experiment. Annual soil GHG fluxes were 5.5 ± 0.2 Mg CO2-C ha−1 yr−1, 3.6 ± 0.7 kg N2O-N ha−1 yr−1, and −1.5 ± 0.1 kg CH4-C ha−1 yr−1 across treatments. The palm circle, where fertilizers are commonly applied, covered 18 % of the plantation area but accounted 79 % of soil N2O emission. The net primary production of this oil palm plantation was 17150 ± 260 kg C ha−1 yr−1 but 62 % of this was removed by fruit harvest. The global warming potential of this planation was 3010 ± 750 kg CO2-eq ha−1 yr−1 of which 55 % was contributed by soil N2O emission and only < 2 % offset by soil CH4 sink.

Guantao Chen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2023-102', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2023-102', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Sep 2023

Guantao Chen et al.

Guantao Chen et al.


Total article views: 260 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
202 43 15 260 27 7 7
  • HTML: 202
  • PDF: 43
  • XML: 15
  • Total: 260
  • Supplement: 27
  • BibTeX: 7
  • EndNote: 7
Views and downloads (calculated since 24 Jul 2023)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 24 Jul 2023)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 239 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 239 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 24 Sep 2023
Short summary
We established an oil palm management experiment in a large-scale oil palm plantation, in Jambi, Indonesia. We recorded oil palm fruit yield and measured soil CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes. After four years of treatment, compared with conventional fertilization with herbicide weeding, reduced fertilization with mechanical weeding did not reduce yield and soil greenhouse gas emissions that highlight the legacy effects of over a decade of conventional management prior to the start of experiment.