Information about oil palm nutrition

Magnesium, potassium and boron
three important nutrients for oil palm


Nutrient requirement by oil palm

Magnesium and potassium are two important nutrients in the oil palm production. The target of high palm oil yields cannot be realized without adequate supply of these essential macronutrients. The growth cycle of oil palm which lasts for about 25 years is characterized by different stages which each has its specific requirement regarding nutrition. During the initial three years after planting, there is a gradually increase in K and Mg uptake by the oil palm. After 3-5 years onwards, the nutrient uptake is stabilized on a high level.

This brochure will attempt to clarify and visualize the role of Mg, K, S and boron for oil palm with respect to soil/plant interactions, stressing on yield responses to Mg application and its interaction with other cations on FFB and oil formation.

Potassium and magnesium are important for oil palm nutrition

Nutrient requirements for the oil palm

250 K 200 N uptake (kg ha-1) 150



Mg P

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 years from planting 8 9 10

Source: Ng, 1977

Fertilizers used for oil palm

For the plant nourishment, the fertilizer industry provides the oil palm plantations with mineral fertilizers. Mineral nutrients are inorganic elements that have essential and specific functions in plant metabolism. Potash and magnesium products are represented on the market through K+S KALI GmbH. This company extracts potash and magnesium crude salts from six mines in Germany, transforming them into a wide

variety of high-grade mineral fertilizer products and intermediate products for further processing for technical, commercial and pharmaceutical purposes. K+S KALI GmbH is the fourth largest potash producer worldwide and the leader in Europe. In the field of potassium sulphate and magnesium sulphate speciality fertilizers (mainly ESTA® Kieserite and Epsom Salt), K+S KALI GmbH occupies the leading position worldwide.

name Nitrogen
Ammonium chloride Ammonium sulfate Urea




NH4Cl (NH4)2SO4 CO(NH2)2

28 % N 21% N, 24 % N 46 % N

Acidifying Acidifying Acidifying

Triple superphosphate (TSP) Rock phosphate Ca(H2PO4) 2H2O 41 – 50 % P2O5 12 – 20 % CaO, 1.4 % S 25-39 % P2O5 46-50 % CaO Very slow-acting


Potassium chloride* Potassium sulfate* KCl K2SO4 60 % K2O 50 % K2O, 18 % S Muriate of Potash (MOP) Sulphate of Potash (SOP)

Kieserite* Dolomite MgSO4 H2O MgCO3 + CaCO3 27 % MgO, 22 % S 30-47 % CaO 2-18 % MgO Soluble, quick-acting Slow-acting, varying content of Ca and Mg

Borax * K+S KALI GmbH products Na2B4O2 10H2O 11%B Soluble, quick-acting

Potash and Magnesium fertilizers from K+S KALI GmbH are products of nature

The elements potassium and magnesium occur widely in our natural ecosystem. They are essential nutrients for plants, animals and humans. The discovery of potash and magnesium fertilizer deposits has made it possible to correct deficiencies of these nutrients in agriculture. In Germany, these natural deposits were formed some 230 million years ago resulting from the solar evaporation of seawater during the Zechstein period. The water from salt water lagoons (3) which were cut off from the ocean (1) by shallow bars (2), evaporated (4) and crystallized.

Specific conditions during the solar evaporation phase resulted in the formation of deposits not only rich in potash minerals but also containing magnesium sulphate. K+S KALI GmbH mines these unique crude salts and transforms them into quality fertilizers containing potassium, magnesium and sulphur with the help of environment-friendly physical means, e.g. electrostatic separation, solution and re-crystallisation processes.

Formation of potash and magnesium deposits in Germany (Shallow-barrier-theory)



Bars Lagoon

Potash and Kieserite bed

ESTA® Kieserite fine and gran. a natural product from Germany

ESTA® Kieserite fine
Kieserite 27 + 22 27 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 22 % S water-soluble sulphur

ESTA® Kieserite gran.
Kieserite 25 + 20 25 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 20 % S water-soluble sulphur

ESTA® Kieserite fine
l is a sulphate based magnesium and sulphur fertilizer especially suited to balance nutrition in intensive farming systems aiming at both high yield and high quality production. l is the result of extracting the naturally occurring mineral kieserite (MgSO4 H2O) through the environment-friendly electrostatic separation process (ESTA®) from salt deposits in Germany. l contains the nutrients magnesium and sulphur in an immediately plant-available (water-soluble) form. l is an efficient Mg and S source for all crops in all soil types regardless of soil pH.

ESTA® Kieserite gran.
l is the granulated form of ESTA® Kieserite fine containing 25 % MgO and 20 % S as magnesium sulphate. l is suitable for all types of soil owing to its high solubility regardless of soil pH. l has excellent spreading properties due to the hardness of the granules and the appropriate particle size distribution. l is ideally suited for bulk blending. l is mined from naturally occurring deposits and cleared for use in organic farming systems according to the EU-regulations EC 2092/91.

The Kieserite crystal
crystal: monocline-prismatic hardness: 3.5 density: 2.57 g cm-3

Muriate of Potash standard in oil palm nutrition

Muriate of Potash standard
Potassium chloride 60 60 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide

Muriate of Potash gran.
Potassium chloride 60 60 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide

Muriate of Potash standard
l is a highly concentrated single-nutrient fertilizer containing 60 % K2O as potassium chloride. l is the universal potash fertilizer suitable for all chloride tolerant crops and applicable for all types of soils. l is a fine crystalline product virtually free of particles smaller than 0.16 mm. MOP standard is used for both: the manufacture of compound fertilizer and for straight manual application in oil palm.

Muriate of Potash gran.
l is the granulated form of Muriate of Potash standard ideally suited to bulk blending and mechanical spreading due to its highly uniform and solid granules.

The MOP structure
structure: cubic appearance: pink, crystalline solid density: 1,987 g cm-3

Korn-Kali® more than MOP

Korn-Kali®+B more than just Korn-Kali
Potassium Chloride with Magnesium 40 (+6+3+4) 40 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide 6 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 4% S water-soluble sulphur 3 % Na 0.8 % B2O3 water-soluble sodium boron

Potassium Chloride with Magnesium 40 (+6+3+4) 40 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide 6 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 4% S water-soluble sulphur 3 % Na water-soluble sodium

l is a combined potassium, magnesium and sulphur fertilizer with 40% K2O as potassium chloride, 6 % MgO and 4 % S as magnesium sulphate (ESTA® Kieserite). l contains potassium, magnesium and sulphur, all in the water-soluble form; thus, the nutrients are immediately available to the plant irrespective of soil pH. l is effective in all types of soils and is suitable for all chloride tolerant crops. l is a granulated product with excellent spreading characteristics. l due to the convenient particle size distribution Korn-Kali® is extremely suitable for bulk blending.

l is a combined fertilizer with: - potassium in the form of MOP - magnesium and sulphur in the form of ESTA® Kieserite - boron in the form of sodium borate l contains all nutrients in a fully water-soluble form which are therefore directly available to the plants independent of soil pH. l ensures efficient uptake and utilization of K, Mg and B by crops because of a more even distribution of all nutrients in each application. l is a granulated product with excellent spreading characteristics. Due to the convenient particle size distribution Korn-Kali® +B is extremely suitable for bulk blending.

Quality management for consistent product quality

Before K+S KALI products reach our customers they undergo very stringent quality controls. Based on DIN/ISO 9000-9004 K+S KALI has introduced QUALITY MANAGEMENT, aiming at constant monitoring and perfecting the quality of products through-out the whole production chain, from the mine through the refinery to the warehouse. This is an essential part of the company’s philosophy, safeguarding the confidence of our customers in our products and hence future development. Quality management covers all our activities and is vital in the dedication of all employees to optimize products and services according to the market demand. Besides the internal quality management, independent laboratories take samples from all products and analyse the fertilizers in terms of purity, nutrient content, granulometry, flow and anti-dust characteristics before delivery.

Being one of the largest potash producer, K+S KALI GmbH has sales branches and affiliates all over the globe. In close co-operation with local and regional representatives a world-wide distribution network has been formed to satisfy the quantitative and qualitative requirements of our customers. Furthermore, the K+S KALI GmbH has an agricultural advisory department where specialized agronomists support the local representatives with their knowledge. From the mining and processing sites in Germany, the K+S KALI products are supplied to growers all over the world. Within Germany and Europe, trucks, railway and small vessels are the predominant means of transport used. The overseas destinations are reached by large sea vessels. Our up-to-date technology in logistics and professional handling serves as a sound foundation. Shipped through our own fertilizer docks in Hamburg port, reliable and punctual deliveries to our overseas customers are guaranteed.

Professional logistic facilities guarantee an optimal and save fertilizer transport to our overseas customers

Magnesium in the plant

Magnesium has many functions in the metabolism of oil palm. The most prominent function of Mg in plants is its role as the central atom of the chlorophyll molecule, the green pigment in leaves which captures the light energy required for photosynthesis.

Magnesium and its most important function in plants

Functions of magnesium in the plant

Besides being part of the chlorophyll, Mg is also involved in the carboxylase reaction of the photosynthesis, namely as a coenzyme in the fixation of CO2. Mg is needed in all processes that require energy, e.g. starch, protein and vitamin synthesis, assimilate transport to leaves and fruit bunches and it is required in many enzymes concerned with fatty acids and oil biosynthesis.

Magnesium in the soil

Mg is absorbed by plants as Mg2+ from the soil solution. The absorption depends on the Mg2+ in the soil solution, soil pH, the % Mg saturation on the cation exchange capacity (CEC) and the quantity of other exchangeable cations (Ca2+, K+, Na+ and NH4+). The Mg2+ in the soil solution is in equilibrium with the exchangeable Mg which is absorbed at the negative sides of clay minerals and humus. The absorption of Mg2+ is very prone to competition with other cations. High ratios of Ca/Mg at the exchange complex or the continued use of high-calcic liming materials which may increase the Ca/Mg ratio induce Mg deficiency on certain crops. In acid mineral soils, Al3+ becomes the dominant cation of the exchange complex, forming soluble toxic species which impair root growth. This Al induced root growth depression can be alleviated by adequate magnesium supply.

Impairment of root growth as affected by soil pH

Mg alleviates Al induced root growth depression

Potassium in the plant

Potassium is needed by the plant in large quantities for the production of high yield (bunch size and bunch number) and improved crop quality. In contrast to many other essential elements, K is not a firm constituent of organic compounds. Potassium is present in all plant organs and cells and has many functions in the plant:

l Potassium plays an important role in the conversion of light into biochemical energy during photosynthesis. l Potassium speeds up the flow of assimilates from leaves (source) to other plant organs (e.g. fruit bunches and roots). l Potassium promotes the storage of assimilates as a result of increased production and improved translocation of carbohydrates. l Potassium increases the nitrogen use efficiency through a faster conversion of nitrogen to proteins. l Plants abundantly supplied with K can utilize the soil moisture more efficiently than K-deficient plants.

Plant ash over a wide range of plant species contains on average 42 % potassium

80 % water

20% dry matter

24% oxygen 42% potassium

Dry matter is composed of: 30 % crude fibre 12 % protein 48 % N-free-extracts 4% fat 6 % ash

7% chloride 7% silicon 5% phosphorus 5% calcium 4% magnesium 4% sulfur 1% sodium 1% trace elements, iron, zinc, manganese, opper, boron, molybdenum

Potassium in the soil

In the soil, four categories of potassium are usually distinguished: l potassium as a component of soil minerals l non-exchangeable potassium (fixed K) l exchangeable potassium (bound on the surface of soil clays and organic matter) potassium in the soil solution Exchangeable and non-exchangeable K are in equilibrium with each other and with the K in the soil solution. Potassium transfers easily between these pools.

Potassium is taken up actively by palm roots as K+ ion mainly from the soil solution. Most of the potassium needed by the plant is transported by mass flow (with the water moving to the plant root) and by diffusion. The effectiveness of K+ from the soil solution for the crop nourishment is influenced by the presence of other cations, particularly calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+).

Potassium cycle in the soil*
Fertilizer K

Plant uptake

Soil solution K

exchangeable K

Nonexchangeable K

Mineral K


* Modified from Sparks and Huang (1985); Mutscher (1995)

The importance of potassium in oil palm production

In accordance with the extremely high growth rate of the oil palm, its requirements in nutrients are enormous. Of all major plant nutrients, potassium is taken up in the largest amount. Therefore, potassium plays an important role in plant nutrition and is known as the most important cation in plant physiology.

Nutrient removal for 25 t FFB (kg ha-1) Yield t ha-1 25 t FFB N





Potassium is involved in a high number of biochemical functions and affects yield positively on many soils (bunch size and bunch number). In addition with nitrogen, potassium causes synergistic effects improving growth, bunch yield and oil/bunch ratio. For most soils, the normal K content in frond No. 17 is between 0.9 % and 1.3 % depending on palm age, soil moisture or total leaf cations.

Effect of increased potassium fertilization on FFB yield and K-leaf content treatment K0 K1 K2
K1: 1.5 kg MOP palm-1 year-1 K2: 3.0 kg MOP palm-1 year-1

yield FFB ha-1 year-1
15.82 18.36 19.38

relative yield
100 116 123

K-leaf content % of dry matter
0.87 1.10 1.16

source: after Taniputra and Panjaitan, 1981

The importance of sulphur in oil palm production

Just as magnesium, sulphur belongs to the six macro-nutrients and is usually taken up by plants in the same order of magnitude as phosphorus and magnesium. The total sulphur content in plants varies between 0.2 % and 0.5% of the dry matter. Sulphur is involved in numerous metabolic processes of the plant, e.g. the photosynthesis, sugar and starch, amino acid and protein formation as well as oil and fat synthesis. Sulphur exists in organic and in inorganic forms in the soil. Around 90 % of the total S in most non-calcareous soils exists in organic forms. The inorganic forms are solution SO42-, absorbed SO42-, insoluble SO42- and reduced inorganic S compounds. Sulphur is taken up by palm roots as SO42- ion from the soil solution which is transported by diffusion and mass flow to the roots.

Another source of sulphur in the soil is from the atmospheric deposition of SO2 which, particularly in industrial countries, was for many years an important nutrient source but also a strong environmental burden. Therefore, anti air pollution technology has been employed so that today this source of sulphur has been drastically reduced and S deficiency in agriculture has become widespread. Sulphur deficiency symptoms are similar with these of nitrogen. In the beginning the pinnae are pale and small and under acute deficiency they show small brown necrotic spots. Sulphur deficiency symptoms are rarely in oil palm because sufficient S is normally applied through Ammonium Sulfate (AS) and/or ESTA® Kieserite.

Sulphur deficiency symptoms in coconut-pinnae

The importance of boron in oil palm production

Compared to magnesium and potassium, boron is the most important micro-nutrient in oil palm nutrition. Mature palms accumulate up to 0.5 kg B ha-1 in above ground biomass. Boron exists in four forms in the soil: l bound in rocks and minerals l adsorbed on surfaces of clays l combined with organic matter l as free non-ionized boric acid (H3BO3) and B(OH)4- in the soil solution The general understanding of the boron uptake by plants appears to be still incomplete. The undissociated boric acid may be the most effective form, which is transported in the soil solution by mass flow and/or diffusion. Plant uptake of boron is a passive process where H3BO3 moves in response to its concentration gradient in the xylem to sites of greatest water loss. Boron is essential for root elongation, carbohydrate and cell wall formation, affecting the protein synthesis and the regulation of nucleic acid synthesis.

Boron deficiency is the most widespread micronutrient disorder in oil palm. Boron deficiency occurs on sides where B could be leached out easily (high rainfall, in sandy soils and in peat soils). Typically B deficiency symptoms are well known under “crinkle leaf”, “fishbone leaf”, “hook leaf” and “little leaf”.

A typical B-deficiency symptom: crinkle leaf on oil palm pinneae

B deficiency, from left to right: blind leaf, hook leaf, hook leaf.

Potassium deficiency in oil palm

In tropical regions, more soils are poor in plant available potassium than in temperate regions. In oil palm, potassium is the nutrient which is required in the largest quantity during the year after planting. The K content of fruit bunches is about 0.65 % of the bunch weight and the K content in vegetative dry matter is constant over the life cycle (around 1.0-1.3 %). K deficiency occurs where soils contain very small amounts of soil-exchangeable K. Especially in sandy soils and in peat soils, potassium deficiency is widespread because of high leaching losses caused by high rainfall. Furthermore, K deficiency occurs where roots are not able to penetrate the soil to deeper soil layers because of an impermeable soil horizon.

A variety of symptoms have been found to be associated with potassium deficiency in mature oil palms. Confluent orange spotting is the most common K deficiency symptom characterised by small, initially pale green spots which gradually turn yellow to yellowish orange and enlarge both between and across the leaflet veins. A second symptom is called “white stripes” and point out K deficiency often together with an imbalance between K and N and probably a lack of boron. These white, pencil-like stripes occur on both sides of the mid-rips and have a transparent look.

Confluent orange spotting

White stripes

Magnesium deficiency in oil palm

Magnesium as a fertilizer has long been neglected in oil palm plantations in the past which led to widespread magnesium deficiency. Mg deficiency occurs where soils contain very small amounts of exchangeable Mg and where the topsoil has been eroded. Furthermore, leaching losses from soils which due to their advanced stage of weathering were inherently poor in magnesium led to further accelerated soil depletion of this nutrient. High and overfertilization with K and Ca containing fertilizers cause Mg deficiency because of the antagonistic effect and uptake imbalance between these nutrients. The unbound Mg is highly mobile within the plant and is easily retranslocated from older to younger leaves and tissues, e.g. grains, fruits etc. Mg deficiency symptoms in oil palm

are characterised by uniform discolouration of leaflets and of the older fronds, ranging from yellow to bright orange-yellow. Strongest expression of magnesium deficiency occurs during the dry season at high solar radiation and exposure to the sunlight. Therefore, among planters the symptoms are often called heat induced sunburn and are rarely associated with Mg deficiency. The causal effects, however, are that under dry conditions Mg mobility in the soil and hence uptake is reduced. Low Mg supply leads to impaired retranslocation and accumulation of starch in leaves and the activation of O2 resulting in toxic radicals, being responsible for the chlorosis and necrosis of pinnae. “Sunburn” is hence an expression of latent Mg deficiency under high light intensities.

Mg deficient oil palm

Mg deficiency on pinnae

Magnesium sources decide on oil palm productivity

Since the sustained plant availability of Mg is crucial for high FFB yield and oil extraction rates, it is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the nutrient release characteristics from the magnesium fertilizer sources to provide the oil palm continuously with this essential nutrient. In principle, there are three different forms in which magnesium can be applied to the soil: l the oxide form (magnesium oxide and fused lime stone) l the carbonate form (in magnesite and dolomite) l the sulphate form (ESTA® Kieserite and other magnesium sulphates).

The physicochemical properties of Mg fertilizers are crucial for their use in oil palm plantations. Mg oxides and carbonate (dolomite) have a very slow solubility (compared to ESTA® Kieserite) releasing the Mg at rates inadequate for high crop uptake. Dolomite can be used partly to maintain Mg levels on acid soils but because of its low solubility it is not as effective as ESTA® Kieserite to correct Mg deficiency and to supply plants adequate with Mg.

Magnesium source ESTA® Kieserite
(MgSO4 H2O)

Solubility in water g/l

(CaCO3 MgCO3)


Magnesium oxide


ESTA® Kieserite as a natural Mg source dissolves gradually and independent of the soil pH and provides oil palms continuously with both essential nutrients (Mg+S). Attention should be paid to other MgSO4 fertilizers. These MgSO4 fertilizer materials are chemically produced and are a by-product of the industry. They are characterised by a variable Mg content, a poor structure (powder) and are partly polluted with heavy metals.

Magnesium and surface application

Oil palm roots active in nutrient uptake are mostly located in the first 50 cm of the soil profile whereas the highest quantities are located in the first 30 cm. The incorporation and mixing of fertilizers with the soil to improve its dissolution is usually not feasible because the upper root network will be destroyed and nutrient uptake will be inhibited.

The effect of a typical surface application of two Mg carriers (ESTA® Kieserite and dolomite) on soil exchangeable Mg was studied in oil palm. The results show that dolomite, owing to its poor solubility, only increased exchangeable Mg contents in the upper soil layers, whereas substantial Mg from ESTA® Kieserite penetrated to lower soil depths.

The effect of bunch ash (BA) and magnesium source (ESTA® Kieserite and dolomite (GML)) on soil exch. Mg (cmol kg-1)*

0 - 15

soil depht (cm)

15 - 30

30 - 60

60 - 90



2 cmol Mg kg-1 BA+GML


Control Soil: Sedu Soils, typic Sulfaquept

BA+ESTA® Kieserite

BA = 8.0 kg palm-1 bunch ash ® ESTA Kieserite = 3.0 kg palm-1 ESTA® Kieserite GML = 5.0 kg palm-1 dolomite

Source: Singh (1989)

Magnesium and surface application

The effect that Mg from ESTA® Kieserite penetrated deeper into the soil than Mg from dolomite (after a surface application) has a significant effect on root growth. The effect of an improved root growth was studied with forest trees on an acid soil in Germany. The observation of this experiment was that dolomite owing to its slow release of magnesium only benefited the roots in the top 10 cm whereas in the lower soil horizon root growth was even reduced after dolomite application compared to the control. The

explanation of this effect may be in the promotion of root growth in the more favourable environment with higher Mg and Ca availability, whereas penetration into the acid subsoil did not occur. On the other hand, Kieserite owing to its solubility independent on the pH and deeper penetration into the soil profile, benefited also the roots at the lower soil dephts. This is an important feature of soluble magnesium in form of ESTA® Kieserite, improving root growth to enhance uptake of N, P, K and Mg also from the subsoil.

Distribution of feeder roots (<2 mm) of Norway spruce on an acid forest soil (pH 3.7) as affected by Mg nutrition
325 0-5 477 oil extraction rate (%) 145 5 - 10 253 271 181 10 - 20 80 152 20 - 30 36 0 100 200 300 400 root concentration (mg I-1) Dolomite ESTA® Kieserite 500 600 217 325 557

Control Source: Schaaf and Zech (1991)

Magnesium and oil extraction rate

For a long time, the oil palm industry has emphasized yield in form of harvested FFB in tonnes by neglecting oil extraction rate. In recent years, the industry goal was to enhance the oil formation in oil palm to define new performance parameters in case of production and profitability. The importance of magnesium for oil production is evident from the fact that it promotes oil formation.

Mg in the form of ESTA® Kieserite influenced positively oil production. Tayeb (2005) reported that on top an extra 1.57 t ha-1 yr-1 oil was achieved through consistent application of 1.5 kg palm-1 yr-1 ESTA® Kieserite. Over the whole experiment, an extra 0.57 t ha-1 yr-1 oil was achieved per year.

Treatment N+P+SOP N+P+SOP+1.5 kg ESTA® Kieserite
source: Tayeb, PIPOC, 2005

last trial year (t ha-1)

combined years (1-5) (t ha-1)



oil extraction rate (%)

Beside the essential nutrient Mg, it seems to be that also the Mg source of fertilizers (e.g. ESTA® Kieserite (MgSO4) and dolomite (MgCO3) plays an important role on oil formation because of differences in solubility and nutrient release pattern. This may explain results where the oil extraction rate was 8 % higher compared to the dolomite treatment.

The effect of two different Mg fertilizer (ESTA® Kieserite and dolomite) on oil extraction rate
30 28 26 24 22 20 30 42 age of palms (month) Dolomite 48

ESTA® Kieserite Source: Ditschar, 2006


Fertilizer management in oil palm

Oil palm belongs to the ten most heavily fertilized crops worldwide and therefore, the fertilizer costs are considerable. At times of a high oil price, the fertilizer management seems to be easier because of a higher profit whereas at times of a low oil price the quantity of fertilizer used is reduced. In perennial crops (oil palm), such fertilizer reductions during one or two years could have drastic consequences in yield performance for the next years. A constant fertilizer application is essential to supply the oil palm continuously with nutrients to guarantee good yield performance over years. The K+S KALI fertilizers (ESTA® Kieserite, Korn-Kali®, Korn-Kali®+B) support the oil palm industry with high-quality fertilizer to ensure and to provide high yield performance. K+S KALI fertilizers are established in the oil palm industry worldwide and are part of the straight fertilizer program on oil palm plantations.

Innovative products and an improved product quality can help to minimize fertilizer costs. Through Korn-Kali®+B, a combination of MOP, ESTA® Kieserite and Borax, it is possible to ease the fertilizer application and to reduce labour costs compared to the traditionell straight fertilizer application. The application of 5 to 6 kg Korn-Kali®+B per palm splitted in two or three applications will satisfy the annual requirements of K, Mg and B in mature oil palms. The even distribution of all nutrients in each application ensures high yield performances over years.

High FFB yield with K+S KALI products.

Best Management Practise for Maximum Economic yield in oil palm

Following on the success of a Best Management Practise (BMP) project with PT Asiatic Persada in Jambi (Indonesia), the regional Southeast Asia Program* of the newly established International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) initiated a second BMP project at larger scale. The new project began in 2006 with six collaborating oil palm plantations located in the key oil palm growing areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia. The K+S KALI GmbH, a founding member of the IPNI, is a partner of the new BMP project in support of the Southeast Asia Program and the oil palm industry in Indonesia and Malaysia. There is an increasing global demand for vegetable oils such as palm oil but an evident need to increase productivity. Oil palm yields have largely stagnated in the last 20 years, but substantial opportunities exist to increase yield in existing plantations while minimizing negative effects on the environment through improved management practices including better plant nutrition. The BMP approach provides estate managers with a concept and guiding principles on how to evaluate current management practices compared to improved BMP implemented in selected trial block. The aim is to maximize yield and minimize fruit losses but the individual BMP components are tailored by the estate management to site-specific conditions. A continuous dialogue between estate managers and agronomists during site visits are an integral part of the BMP concept and helps addressing upcoming problems during the implementation.

The BMP approach is based on crop and nutrient management principles: l decision making based on relevant information l development of management units based on soil and plant surveys l best management practise (BMP) for optimal economic yield l plant-based determination of nutrient needs l ‘need-based’ fertilizer use for effective use of nutrients Apart from improved nutrient management principles, best management practises are characterised by: l complete crop recovery through collection of all fruits l short harvesting rounds (7 days) and a good access for the harvester l adequate pruning and the removal of unproductive palms l optimal root function and nutrient uptake by palms through adequate moisture availability (drainage, water conservation) l optimal nutrient use through complete utilization of crop residues (empty fruit bunches etc.) l optimal access and erosion control through contour paths l optimal fertilizer use efficiency through weed-free platforms around trees and correct fertilizer placement



Inter-row-fertilizer-application between oil palms (on old, properly stacked fronds) increases fertilizer efficiency.

Preliminary results from two plantations in North Sumatra, Indonesia, showed bunch yield increases between 7 % and 13 %, respectively, in blocks with BMP after 6 months compared with the reference blocks under standard management (see table below). The yield increase was mainly related to an increase in bunch weight (+8 %) as a result of a better crop recovery due to shorter harvesting rounds, i.e. every palm was visited every seven days. With shorter harvesting intervals, rounds increased by 38 % and 82 % in the two plantations, respectively, because of the more frequent visits by harvesters. The gross benefit with BMP was 105 USD ha-1 and 132

USD ha-1 in the two plantation, respectively. Because of higher costs for the BMP implementation a detailed economic analysis is necessary to show the net revenue of BMP. A preliminary economic analysis indicated additional costs for the implementation of BMP of only about 50 USD ha-1 so that there is a significant positive net benefit with BMP. A more thorough analysis is expected after one year. The BMP project clearly shows that a slight investment in management practises can result in a significantly higher productivity and profitability.

Initial effects of BMP on harvest round, fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield, average bunch weight and gross benefit compared to reference blocks in two plantations in North Sumatra.

Project Estate A Estate B

Harvest rounds
+38% +82%

FFB yield (kg ha-1)
+7% +13%

Avg bunch weight (kg)
+8% +8%

Gross value of extra BMP yield difference
+105 USD +132 USD

Contact: IPNI Southeast Asia Program, e-mail

All out of one hand

ESTA® Kieserite fine
Kieserite 27 +22 27 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 22 % S water-soluble sulphur ESTA® Kieserite fine has been used in oil palm production worlwide and is generally regarded as the standard magnesium fertilizer. The reason for this is that it is a highly concentrated Mg and S carrier and contains both nutrients in the water-soluble form.

ESTA Kieserit


Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company

ESTA® Kieserite gran.
Kieserite 25 +20 25 % MgO water-soluble magnesium oxide 20 % S water-soluble sulphur ESTA® Kieserite gran. is the granulated form of ESTA® Kieserite fine containing 25 % MgO and 20 % S as magnesium sulphate.

ESTA Kieserit


Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company

Potassium chloride with magnesium 40 (+6+4+3) 40 % 6% 4% 3% K 2O MgO S Na water-soluble water-soluble water-soluble water-soluble potassium oxide magnesium oxide sulphur sodium
Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company



Korn-Kali® is a combined potassium, magnesium and sulphur fertilizer with 40 % K2O as potassium chloride, 6 % MgO and 4 % S as magnesium sulphate (ESTA® Kieserite)


Potassium chloride with magnesium 40 (+6+4+3) 40 % 6% 4% 3% 0.8% K 2O MgO S Na B 2O 2 water-soluble water-soluble water-soluble water-soluble water-soluble potassium oxide magnesium oxide sulphur sodium boric oxide
Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company


Korn-Kali®+B is a well balanced K, Mg, S and B fertilizer for oil palm and ensures efficient uptake and utilization of these nutrients.

Muriate of Potash standard
Potassium chloride 60 60 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide Muriate of Potash (MOP) is a highly concentrated single-nutrient fertilizer containing 60 % K2O as potassium chloride. MOP is the universal potash fertilizer suitable for all chloride tolerate crops.

MOP standard

Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company

Muriate of Potash gran.
Potassium chloride 60 60 % K2O water-soluble potassium oxide Muriate of Potash (MOP) gran is the granulated form of MOP standard containing 60 % K2O as potassium chloride.
Produced by K+S KALI GmbH 34111 Kassel Germany A K+S Group Company

MOP gran.


P.O. Box 10 20 29 · 34111 Kassel · Germany Phone +49 (0)561 9301-2316 · Fax +49 (0)561 9301-1416 · A K+S Group Company

® = Registered trademark of K+S KALI GmbH

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