InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA - One thing to control the rats which may decrease palm oil productivity may be using natural agent, which is, owl. Besides environmental, it could decrease the use of chemical ingredients in the plantations.
Rat is a rodent animal as the main pest in the palm oil plantation for it may decrease the production, both the quality and quantity of the fresh fruit bunch (FFB) and could make unproductive plantation before it is mature. In the immature tree, rat will eat the stalk of the tree until tree is dead. While in the mature tree, the rat will eat the male flower and the FFB so it decreases the production and increases the free fatty acid (FFA) or decreases the quality of crude palm oil (CPO) (Rajagukguk, B, 2014).
In general, to control the rats could be done by chemical usage, such as, ‘redontisida sistem campain’ both ‘antikoagulan generasi 1’ and ‘antikoagulan generasi 2’. But to control the rat chemically, it is not satisfied yet, both in the decreasing numbers when control it, the money spent, and the impact to the environment.
Biological control is the alternative one to use for it is sustainable and environmental. In the long term, the money will be much money to spend rather than it in chemical ways. Some methods in controlling the pest (rat) biologically have been done by some plantation companies, such as, using cobra. But it influenced the safety of the workers. So breeding owls (Tyto alba) is the alternative to control the rats environmentally and sustainably to decrease the numbers of rats in the plantation (Sipayung, A. 1990).
Owl (Tyto alba) is chosen for it is the predator to the rats in the palm oil plantation. It is noctural (active in the night) and 99% of its food are rats and 1% is bugs. Tyto Alba attacks well and could eat 2 to 7 rats in every single night. It could kill more than what it needs (Setiawan, 2014).
It needs to notice, breeding owls in palm oil plantation needs ‘gupon’ or cage, routine monitoring, managing the place of breeding, and the spread of owl should be based on its characteristic. Breeding owls in PT Salonok Ladang Mas (SLM) (USTP Group) has been running since in the end of 2013 until now within the goal is to control rats intensively and sustainably. The breeding of owls in PT SLM has good results. This success happens for the top management of PT SLM commits and it is supported by the workers within the cooperation from the plot workers and the Pest and Desease Team. (PDT).
By: Salahuddin Adi Kelana, Avi Damayanthi, Ruben S, Marlon S / Agronomy Team of PT USTP
For more, please read InfoSAWIT, March 2017