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196   K. L. CHONG ET AL.

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
palms
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
GEO-SPATIAL INFORMATION SCIENCE   197

deeper understanding, to fill the gaps and to share the Awal, M. A., W. Ishak, J. Endan, and M. Haniff. 2004.
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Chong Khai Loong is currently a graduate student in
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He earned his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science in the
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He is interested in precision agriculture and studies remote
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Badan Pusat Statistik.
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Agriculture Organization.
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Christine Pohl is currently representing the chair of
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Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing at the
on New Britain and the Impacts upon Endemic Birds.”
University of Osnabrueck, Germany. Her research interests
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Forest Aboveground Biomass in the Northeastern
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