Application of Empty Bunch Fertilization

Application of Empty Bunch Fertilization

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA – The expensive chemical fertilizers make planters efficient to keep palm oil plantation cultivation run well. But there are alternaties to apply organic fertilizer, one of them is empty bunch fertilizer.

The applications are as follows:



First thing first is to decide where the spots to have empty bunch fertilizer. The consideration is that the radius should be 5 kilometers from mill in order to get fast and efficient empty bunch transportation. Then the areas, if possible, should be flat or in wave maximally. If the spots are hilly, the total application will be difficult for blocks. Then the trees should be fully standing which means, the application will be equal in each tree.

After that, the areas/spots should be free from flood to get more effective application. After that there should be path for tractors and bulldozer D5 to get into the blocks. This will ease the tractors get into the blocks for the land is flat and the application can be near the trees and there is no pile along the path.

After that, it needs to put marks in application areas so that the trucks or tractors that transport empty bunch can lay down the application to the right spots to be applied.


The Application

It needs to get the right and good preparation to gather empty bunch in mill by using loading hopper within maximal capacity up to 100 tons. The loading hopper should not be full in night process, empty bunch should be poured to the floor and will get additional costs to load empty bunch to truck or tractor by loader or excavator.  

The transportation should be by truck or tractor which has been well prepared. If a mill has 45 tons per hour – capacity, empty bunch will be about 180 tons per day within transportation truck – capacity up to 40 tons per day. It will need 5 trucks per day and one foreman to monitor it.

The manual sowing team in the block means, having 180 tons – 200 tons per day (empty bunch fertilizer), every worker could sow it 4 tons per hectare per day or it will need 45 – 50 workers per day and 2 sowing foremen. Some companies even have assistants, called Asjanko (asisten janjang kosong) to monitor the application.


Watering and Sowing Systems

Empty bunch from mill should be in weight and then transported to the field. Watering foreman should supervise every process – the laying on the specific spot, the marking with plastic flag, the pouring and label about tonnage, handling over to watering foreman, including the numbers to get doze target which is 35 tons per hectare per year.

If empty bunch is transported by tractor, it should be put in 4 to 5 piles to close it to the trees and to ease watering process.

The spots should be among the trees and the doze depends on trees per hectare. If the doze target is 35 tons per hectare, there should be 136 – 140 trees per hectare which means, doze per tree should be 250 kilograms.

Empty bunch should be put between trees and area around trees and in rectangle position. If bunch average weight is 15 kilograms, the empty bunch will be about 3 kilograms. It means, there should be 83 empty bunches among trees. To get easy control, foreman should instruct that empty bunches should be arrange in 7x12 rectangle and when checked to spot samples, it is easy to control and monitor.

In the sowing process, the worker should get well prepared with ‘angkong’ and small fork to ease watering it to application spots and the watering target – 6 tons per hectare per worker can be realized.

It needs to assure that the application is in one layer. If 2 layer – application last for some time, this will be the spots for Oryctes (horn beetles) to develop, which is dangerous insect in palm oil plantations. Fresh fruit bunch and productive trees may be dead if attacked by Oryctes. Besides it will spend lots to control pest and needs fully control to the end.

Application blocks should be fully applied because the next step after two application is that non-organic fertilizer will stop and continue to empty bunch application. If there is recommendation, non-organic application takes place after taking samples by research and should not 100% as it was. It should maximally 40% from other blocks and some companies even stop non-organic application after conducting empty bunch fertilizer.

It also needs to monitor empty bunch decomposition. If it is weathering, the next application should run in 10 – 12 months interval. (*)

By: Ahmad Hulaimi / Palm oil plantation practitioner

For more, please read InfoSAWIT, July 2021