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content, soil fertility, or occurrence of adverse events oil palms, leading to lower yield or death, if prolonged.
(flood, drought, pest, and disease) have great potential Flood is normally resulting from the poor planning of
to further improve the accuracy of yield estimation. drainage systems that overlook the problem when oil
palms are planted on topographically disadvantaged
3.6.  Precision agriculture needs remote sensing areas. 3D mapping of the terrain prior to the planting
could serve as important information to account for
In the future plantation management where operating flood-risk areas. Nevertheless, the assessment of risk
costs are minimized and profit is maximized, precision requires the knowledge of hydrology, geology, and civil
agriculture will play an important role. This involves engineering, which forms an interdisciplinary research
the use of remote sensing (Liaghat and Balasundram effort with remote sensing, which have not yet been
2010). Each palm tree will be precisely monitored. implemented for oil palm plantations.
The anomalous palm that has a poor yield can be indi-
vidually dealt with. For this to be realized, there is a
3.9.  Soil as remote sensing-based indicator of oil
need for very high-resolution imagery and GPS data
to distinguish palms at individual level to identify the
problem and to enable a specific treatment. UAV is an Another interesting field for future research is the study
option for this application as they provide highest spa- of soil in oil palm plantations from a remote sensing per-
tial resolution and flexible data acquisitions (Koo et al. spective. Soil is one of the key factors in the growth of oil
2012). A recently launched commercial satellite, i.e. palms because it governs the efficiency of nutrients uptake
Worldview-4, is capable of providing very high spatial by oil palm and affects yield performance in turn. The
resolution (30 cm) images, and is a potential candidate characteristics of a good soil can be observed from afar
for contributing information to precision agriculture. as they develop different responses to the reflected light.
Its data could be equally applied in the detection of pest For instance, soil moisture content could be picked up by
and disease, especially the notorious Ganoderma disease active remote sensing based on the dielectric properties
that require early detection and quarantine. of the backscattered waves (Kang et al. 2016). The inter-
action of observed signals with other soil properties like
3.7.  Unmanaged oil palm as an agent of soil type, soil texture, and soil structure could be studied
environmental and health disruptor to form empirical relationships with each other, which
can help reducing tedious workload of soil sampling.
On the other hand, oil palm planting had been accused
of causing the recent event of forest fires and subsequent
event of haze that set off numerous health and environ- 4. Conclusions
mental problems. The extinction of these fires could be
enforced more efficiently if the hotspots would be iden- The planting of oil palm is an inevitable trend driven by
tified earlier. In this context, remote sensing should be the demand of the ever-increasing population toward
considered, i.e. the use of thermal sensors by marking the cheaper vegetable oil and biofuel. Research efforts should
areas with high temperature. Then, a properly planned be channeled toward improving the performance of the
response system could be organized for effective fire-ex- industry and reducing the negative environmental effect
tinguishing operations. In an effort to monitor global that it causes. Remote sensing plays a significant role in
fire event, NASA formed Fire Information for Resource the monitoring of oil palm industry concerning envi-
Management System (FIRMS) which combines the use ronmental and economical aspects. It is useful for the
of MODIS and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer assessment of environmental status and crop condition.
Suite (VIIRS) to provide active fire data at the spatial It prepares the industry for assimilation of technology
resolution of 375 m. Alongside of NASA, the Copernicus like machinery automation and precision agriculture
Emergency Management Service (EMS) operated by to reduce cost, labor dependency and improve produc-
European Commission provides information on the tivity. Many plantation companies had already started
event of forest fires through its open source service at using the technology and some of them even have their
global scale. With such global coverage, the data could own operating professional GIS/remote sensing unit.
be used to pinpoint the source of fire during the event of The application of remote sensing helps companies to
forest fires and further research efforts could be admin- acquire valuable and otherwise expensive information.
istrated to prevent and alleviate the effects of forest fires. Some techniques are already implemented but kept con-
fidential or are unpublished as their intention is not for
academic publication. Nevertheless, dissemination and
3.8.  Flood as common problem for oil palms
knowledge transfer of techniques should be given more
As oil palms are mostly planted in tropical climate with attention in order to advance in mutual advantage. More
frequent rain, flooding is a common natural disaster in joint research on remote sensing for oil palms between
oil palm plantation management. It causes stresses on industry and academic experts is needed to provide a

deeper understanding, to fill the gaps and to share the Awal, M. A., W. Ishak, J. Endan, and M. Haniff. 2004.
outcome with the general public. “Determination of Specific Leaf Area and Leaf Area-leaf
Mass Relationship in Oil Palm Plantation.” Asian Journal
of Plant Sciences 3 (3): 264–268.
Funding Aziz, N. A., W. Omar, R. Kassim, and N. Kamarudin. 2012.
“Remote Sensing Measurement for Detection of Bagworm
This work was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education Infestation in Oil Palm Plantation.” MPOB Information
in Malaysia and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia under Series 589. ISSN: 1511-7871.
the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme [grant number my/publications/TOT/TT-502.pdf
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Chong Khai Loong is currently a graduate student in
Plantations.” European Journal of Lipid Science and
Geoinformation Science at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Technology 109 (4): 289–295. doi:10.1002/ejlt.200600223.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science in the
Blaschke, T. 2010. “Object Based Image Analysis for Remote
University Malaysia Sabah during his undergraduate studies.
Sensing.” ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote
He is interested in precision agriculture and studies remote
Sensing 65 (1): 2–16. doi:10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2009.06.004.
sensing as a gateway to achieve his goal. At present, he is
BPS. 2014. Statistik Kelapa Sawit Indonesia 2014. Jakarta:
working on oil palm-related research.
Badan Pusat Statistik.
Breda, N. J. J. 2003. “Ground-based Measurements of Leaf
Kasturi Devi Kanniah is an associate professor in
Area Index: A Review of Methods, Instruments and
Geoinformation Science at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Current Controversies.” Journal of Experimental Botany 54
Her remote sensing investigations examine changes in terres-
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trial carbon stock (e.g. mangroves, oil palms tropical forest
Breure, C. J. 2010. “Rate of Leaf Expansion: A Criterion
deforestation) and low-carbon cities, and she is a collabora-
for Identifying Oil Palm (Elaeis Guineensis Jacq.)
tor with the Malaysia Environmental Performance Index at
Types Suitable for Planting at High Densities.” NJAS
UTM. For 15 years, she has taught courses in remote sensing,
– Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences 57 (2): 141–147.
GIS, and environmental impact assessment. Kasturi received
her PhD in Geography & Environmental Science from
Brown, S. 1997. Estimating Biomass and Biomass Change
Monash University and an MPhil in GIS and Remote Sensing
of Tropical Forests: A Primer. Vol. 134. Rome: Food and
from Cambridge University. She is a visiting scholar to MIT,
Agriculture Organization.
USA. She serves on the editorial board of the International
Buchanan, G. M., S. H. M. Butchart, G. Dutson, J. D. Pilgrim,
Journal of Geoinformatics.
M. K. Steininger, K. D. Bishop, and P. Mayaux. 2008.
“Using Remote Sensing to Inform Conservation Status
Christine Pohl is currently representing the chair of
Assessment: Estimates of Recent Deforestation Rates
Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing at the
on New Britain and the Impacts upon Endemic Birds.”
University of Osnabrueck, Germany. Her research interests
Biological Conservation 141 (1): 56–66.
cover mainly standardization procedures for remote sensing
Cartus, O., M. Santoro, and J. Kellndorfer. 2012. “Mapping
image and data fusion. She uses remote sensing for applica-
Forest Aboveground Biomass in the Northeastern
tions in the Tropics, monitoring the sustainability of oil palm
United States with ALOS PALSAR Dual-Polarization
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Chapin III, F. S., P. A. Matson, and P. Vitousek. 2011.
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Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. New York:
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Springer Science & Business Media.
Image and Data Fusion and Geo-Spatial Information Science.
Chemura, A., I. van Duren, and L. M. van Leeuwen. 2015.
“Determination of the Age of Oil Palm from Crown
Tan Kian Pang received his PhD degree in Remote Sensing
Projection Area Detected from WorldView-2 Multispectral
in 2014 and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Universiti
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