Oil Palm Plantations Improve Land Organic Materials

  • English
  • Bahasa Indonesia

One of NGOs’ propaganda that exists in the oil palm plantation areas is the argument that if the land is planted with oil palm then one day the land will become infertile like a desert. Many communities later questioned the propaganda of these NGOs. Ironically, some academics who have rational reasoning, higher education and have a high level of curiosity, consumed by the propaganda, too. Even once there was a case in one of the state universities, where a graduate student had to repeat the exam because the student had a critical attitude, and disagreed with his supervisor who was consumed by the propaganda of the NGO.

Common sense alone is very easy to understand that any plant on planet earth is functioning as the environment saver. There is no single theory or holy book that says the plant is detrimental to the environment. Plants are created by God. How is it possible that God created something that made the planet earth barren? On the contrary, we are asked to plant any crops for environmental improvement. Movements of planting a million were often driven by officials including environmental activists trees since a long time. Even in the Middle Eastern countries that have deserts, they try to plant crops including palm trees i.e. date trees.

For those who are not satisfied with common sense, you can see for yourself how the truth is empirically. Indonesia since 1911 (104 years ago) has been developing oil palm plantations in Pulu Raja (Asahan, North Sumatra), Tanah Itam Ulu (Kab.Batubara, North Sumatra) and Sei Liput (Aceh) which now is still palm oil plantation and has not changed into deserts. On the contrary, existing palm oil plantation is actually increasing in productivity.

Many studies has also proved that biomass (one of the important components of soil fertility) in oil palm plantations increases  as the oil palms age. Chan (2002) in his research entitled: Oil Palm Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Accounting, reveals that the older the oil palm gets, the more volume of biomass formed. The 4-year-old palm oil plant produces about 40 tons per hectare / year biomass, then it increases to about 93 tons at the age of 15 years. At the age of 24 years (age of replanting) the volume of biomass reached the peak of about 113 tons / ha / year. And when replanting, the biomass is left in the soil for its fertility.

 

Then, from biomass harvested in the form of fresh fruit bunch mostly will be returned to the land. If fresh fruit bunch production is 24 tons / ha / year, then the palm oil produced (sold) is only about 5 tons and the rest of 19 tons is the biomass i.e. empty bunches, shells and sludge which are all returned to the land so it can remain fertile. Other than the addition of biomass, according to the plants’ age and productivity, fertilization is done to maintain the fertility of the soil.

Anti-oil palm NGOs can also learn from the experience of the United States with his soybean plantations. The current US soybean plantations of 34 million hectares is over 100 years old already. The soybean plantations produce much smaller biomass (about 20 percent) than the biomass produced by oil palm plantations. Have the United States soy garden turned into a desert? Of course not. If soybean plantations with little biomass returned to the land (compared to oil palm plantations) do not become deserts, why do NGOs propagate that oil palm plantation will become a desert?

Salah satu propaganda jejaring LSM di daerah-daerah perkebunan kelapa sawit selama ini adalah membangun opini bahwa jika lahan ditanami kelapa sawit maka suatu saat lahan tersebut akan menjadi tandus seperti gurun. Banyak masyarakat yang kemudian mempertanyakan propaganda LSM tersebut.

Ironisnya, sebagian akademisi kampus yang memiliki nalar rasional, pendidikan tinggi dan memiliki rasa ingin tahu tinggi, termakan juga oleh propaganda tersebut. Bahkan pernah ada kasus di salah satu perguruan tinggi negeri, mahasiswa pascasarjana harus mengulang ujian karena mahasiswa tersebut memiliki sikap kritis, dan tidak sependapat dengan dosen pembimbingnya yang termakan propaganda LSM tersebut.

Nalar umum (common sense) saja sangat mudah memahami bahwa tanaman apa pun di planet bumi ini berfungsi sebagai pelestarian lingkungan hidup. Tidak ada satu teori pun maupun kitab suci yang mengatakan tanaman itu merusak lingkungan.  Tumbuhan/tanaman diciptakan oleh Tuhan. Masa Tuhan menciptakan yang membuat planet bumi tandus? Bahkan sebaliknya, kita diminta menanam tanaman apa saja untuk perbaikan lingkungan. Gerakan tanam sejuta pohon sejak dahulu sering digerakkan oleh para pejabat temasuk aktivis lingkungan. Di negara-negara arab yang banyak gurun, justru sedang berupaya dihijaukan dengan menanam tanaman termasuk tanaman palma yakni Kurma.

Bagi yang tidak puas dengan common sense, dapat melihat langsung bagaimana kebenarannya secara empiris. Indonesia sejak tahun 1911 (104 tahun lalu) sudah mengembangkan perkebunan kelapa sawit yakni di Pulu Raja (Asahan, Sumut), Tanah Itam Ulu (Kab.Batubara, Sumut) dan Sei Liput (Aceh) yang sampai sekarang masih kebun sawit dan tidak berubah menjadi gurun. Bahkan sebaliknya kebun sawit yang ada justru produktivitasnya semakin meningkat.

Banyak penelitian juga membuktikan bahwa biomas (salah satu komponen penting kesuburan lahan ) pada kebun sawit  meningkat dengan semakin tua umur kelapa sawit. Chan (2002) dalam penelitiannya yang berjudul: Oil Palm Carbon Sequestration and Carbon Accounting, mengungkapkan bahwa dengan semakin tua umur kelapa sawit volume biomas yang terbentuk makin meningkat. Tanaman kelapa sawit umur 4 tahun, menghasilkan biomas sekitar 40 ton per hektar/tahun, kemudian meningkat menjadi sekitar 93 ton pada umur 15 tahun. Pada saat umur 24 tahun (umur peremajaan kembali) volume biomas mencapai  puncak yakni sekitar 113 ton/ha/tahun. Dan ketika diremajakan kembali, biomas tersebut dibiarkan di lahan untuk kesuburan lahan.

Kemudian, dari biomas yang dipanen berupa buah sawit (Tandan Buah Segar) sebagian besar kembali ke lahan. Jika produksi buah sawit 24 ton /ha/tahun, maka minyak sawit yang diambil (dijual) hanya sekitar 5 ton dan 19 ton sisanya merupakan biomas yakni berupa tandan kosong, cangkang dan lumpur (sludge) yang semuanya dikembalikan ke lahan agar tetap subur. Selain dari penambahan biomas tersebut, untuk mempertahankan kesuburan lahan juga dilakukan penambahan kesuburan lahan melaui pemupukan sesuai dengan umur dan produktivitas tanaman.

Bagi LSM anti sawit juga dapat mempelajarinya dari pengalaman Amerika Serikat dengan kebun kedelainya. Kebun kedelai Amerika Serikat saat ini yang luasnya 34 juta hektar, sudah berumur lebih dari 100 tahun. Kebun kedelai hanya menghasilkan biomas yang jauh lebih kecil (sekitar 20 persen) dari biomas yang dihasilkan kebun sawit. Apakah kebun kedelai Amerika Serikat sekarang berubah menjadi gurun-tandus?  Tentu tidak bukan. Jika kebun kedelai yang biomasnya hanya sedikit saja kembali ke lahan (dibanding kebun sawit) tidak menjadi gurun, kenapa LSM mempropaganda bahwa kebun sawit akan jadi gurun?

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on telegram
Share on xing
Share on email

You may also like these articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *