Hoax 3 : Fertilizer use and pollution from oil palm plantations are greater than those of other vegetable oils and the plantations use more chemical (inorganic) fertilizers than other vegetable oil-producing plants, and produce more residues (pollution) that pollute soil and water.
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Do fertilizer use and pollution from oil palm plantations are greater than other vegetable oil plantations ?
Agricultural activities generally use chemical fertilizers such as nitrogen fertilizer, phosphorus and kalium (potassium) and pesticides. FAO data (2013) shows the fertilizer use rate in each country/region (see the table below).
Table : Fertilizer consumption in various countries
|Countries||Fertilizer Use (Kg/Ha)|
|Nitrogen (N)||Phospor (P)||Kalium (K)||Total|
|United States of America||65.9||20.4||21.4||107.7|
Source: FAO, 2013
In general, the countries with the highest use of fertilizer for agriculture are European countries (which are also producers of sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and soybean oil).
The use of fertilizer generally has a correlation with the pollution from residues of fertilizer, both in soil and in water. The fertilizer consumption per hectare in Indonesia’s agricultural land including oil palm plantations is still relatively low. The relatively low use of fertilizers also means the pollution resulting from the residues of fertilizers is lower.
Vegetable oils that use most fertilizers can produce greater pollution in water and soil. This can be calculated by comparing the fertilizer consumption and soil and water pollution (residues) in the production of every ton of vegetable oil (see the table below).
Table : Comparison of input and soil/water pollution among palm oil, soy beans and rapeseed for every ton of vegetable oil
|Indicators||Palm Oil||Soybean Oil||Rapeseed Oil|
Phosphor (kg P2O5)
Pollution (Soil, Water)
Phosphor (kg P2O5)
Source: FAO, 1996
Based on the above data, soybean oil uses the highest amount of fertilizers NPK, pesticides and fossil energy. In the second place is rapeseed oil. As a result, pollution from the residues of fertilizers and pesticides in soil and water is also higher in plantations producing soybean oil and rapeseed oil. As palm oil makes relatively low use of fertilizers, pesticides and fossil energy so pollution from the residues of fertilizers and pesticides in soil and water in oil palm plantations is also relatively low.