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Understory vegetation in oil palm plantations benefits soil biodiversity and decomposition rates

Understory vegetation in oil palm plantations benefits soil biodiversity and decomposition rates
Understory vegetation in oil palm plantations benefits soil biodiversity and decomposition rates
Oil palm is the most productive oil crop per unit area and is crucial to the economy of developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. However, it is also highly controversial due to the impact it has on biodiversity. Inputs of herbicides to control understory vegetation in plantations are high, which is likely to harm native biodiversity, but may be unnecessary in protecting oil palm yield. In this study we investigate the effects of understory manipulation using herbicides on soil fauna, litter decomposition rates and soil abiotic variables: pH, soil organic carbon, soil water content, nitrogen, carbon/nitrogen ratio, potassium and phosphorous. Understory vegetation was manipulated in three treatments: enhanced (no herbicides), normal (intermediate herbicide use) and reduced treatments (heavy herbicide use). Two years after treatment, soil macrofauna diversity was higher in the enhanced than the normal and reduced understory treatment. Furthermore, both macrofauna abundance and litter decomposition was higher in the enhanced than the reduced understory treatment. By contrast, soil fertility did not change between treatments, perhaps indicating there is little competition between oil palms and understory vegetation. The reduction of herbicide use should be encouraged in oil palm plantations, this will not only reduce plantation costs, but improve soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
agricultural sustainability, herbicides, Soil macrofauna, ecosystem function, Best practices, Litter decomposition
2624-893X
Ashton-Butt, Adham
327a148f-4a26-45f2-9611-6b4378134e04
Aryawan, Anak A.
1c9c983c-6abe-47a8-8264-8f54e9c57ac1
Hood, Amelia S.
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Naim, Mohammad
a7f0f729-f6af-4a34-8d97-275d0e025835
Purnomo, Dedi
5aba735b-0c09-4203-b498-6328a3ee8676
Suhardi,
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Wahyuningsih, Resti
fc30fd40-6d62-456f-ab2e-29473bebc9a2
Willcock, Simon
d8a60de8-8e72-4d23-81c2-a6d67b5c1336
Poppy, Guy
e18524cf-10ae-4ab4-b50c-e73e7d841389
Caliman, Jean-Pierre
e7d32a3c-940a-43fa-9942-a6decab25ba8
Turner, Edgar C.
eb83e88d-a250-4c65-9b1e-0113d778fdd2
Foster, William
b711ec6c-2773-4b83-8ab6-2b7ad43ff101
Peh, Kelvin S.-H.
0bd60207-dad8-43fb-a84a-a15e09b024cc
Snaddon, Jake
31a601f7-c9b0-45e2-b59b-fda9a0c5a54b
Ashton-Butt, Adham
327a148f-4a26-45f2-9611-6b4378134e04
Aryawan, Anak A.
1c9c983c-6abe-47a8-8264-8f54e9c57ac1
Hood, Amelia S.
56d8f3c7-8016-4675-b769-4b9432331ef7
Naim, Mohammad
a7f0f729-f6af-4a34-8d97-275d0e025835
Purnomo, Dedi
5aba735b-0c09-4203-b498-6328a3ee8676
Suhardi,
660f983a-5399-4719-b157-da5d3cb5a957
Wahyuningsih, Resti
fc30fd40-6d62-456f-ab2e-29473bebc9a2
Willcock, Simon
d8a60de8-8e72-4d23-81c2-a6d67b5c1336
Poppy, Guy
e18524cf-10ae-4ab4-b50c-e73e7d841389
Caliman, Jean-Pierre
e7d32a3c-940a-43fa-9942-a6decab25ba8
Turner, Edgar C.
eb83e88d-a250-4c65-9b1e-0113d778fdd2
Foster, William
b711ec6c-2773-4b83-8ab6-2b7ad43ff101
Peh, Kelvin S.-H.
0bd60207-dad8-43fb-a84a-a15e09b024cc
Snaddon, Jake
31a601f7-c9b0-45e2-b59b-fda9a0c5a54b

Ashton-Butt, Adham, Aryawan, Anak A., Hood, Amelia S., Naim, Mohammad, Purnomo, Dedi, Suhardi, , Wahyuningsih, Resti, Willcock, Simon, Poppy, Guy, Caliman, Jean-Pierre, Turner, Edgar C., Foster, William, Peh, Kelvin S.-H. and Snaddon, Jake (2018) Understory vegetation in oil palm plantations benefits soil biodiversity and decomposition rates. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. (doi:10.3389/ffgc.2018.00010).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Oil palm is the most productive oil crop per unit area and is crucial to the economy of developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. However, it is also highly controversial due to the impact it has on biodiversity. Inputs of herbicides to control understory vegetation in plantations are high, which is likely to harm native biodiversity, but may be unnecessary in protecting oil palm yield. In this study we investigate the effects of understory manipulation using herbicides on soil fauna, litter decomposition rates and soil abiotic variables: pH, soil organic carbon, soil water content, nitrogen, carbon/nitrogen ratio, potassium and phosphorous. Understory vegetation was manipulated in three treatments: enhanced (no herbicides), normal (intermediate herbicide use) and reduced treatments (heavy herbicide use). Two years after treatment, soil macrofauna diversity was higher in the enhanced than the normal and reduced understory treatment. Furthermore, both macrofauna abundance and litter decomposition was higher in the enhanced than the reduced understory treatment. By contrast, soil fertility did not change between treatments, perhaps indicating there is little competition between oil palms and understory vegetation. The reduction of herbicide use should be encouraged in oil palm plantations, this will not only reduce plantation costs, but improve soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

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Ashton Butt Submitted Manuscript - Accepted Manuscript
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 30 November 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 December 2018
Published date: 14 December 2018
Keywords: agricultural sustainability, herbicides, Soil macrofauna, ecosystem function, Best practices, Litter decomposition

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 426615
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/426615
ISSN: 2624-893X
PURE UUID: 55649408-cd43-4aa7-8128-11282adbde75
ORCID for Kelvin S.-H. Peh: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2921-1341
ORCID for Jake Snaddon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3549-5472

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Dec 2018 17:30
Last modified: 14 Mar 2019 01:35

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Contributors

Author: Anak A. Aryawan
Author: Amelia S. Hood
Author: Mohammad Naim
Author: Dedi Purnomo
Author: Suhardi
Author: Resti Wahyuningsih
Author: Simon Willcock
Author: Guy Poppy
Author: Jean-Pierre Caliman
Author: Edgar C. Turner
Author: William Foster
Author: Jake Snaddon ORCID iD

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