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Environmental impacts as affected by different oil palm cropping systems in tropical peatlands

Dhandapani, S, Ritz, K, Evers, SL and Sjogersten, S (2019) Environmental impacts as affected by different oil palm cropping systems in tropical peatlands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 276. pp. 8-20. ISSN 0167-8809

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Tropical peatlands are globally important for their high carbon storage and unique biodiversity, but are currently under severe threat in South East Asia from expansion of oil palm plantations. A large part of this expansion in Peninsular Malaysia arises from small-holder oil palm plantations that follow varied cropping practices, yet their impact on the environment is largely unexplored. This research aimed to study and evaluate the environmental and belowground microbial impacts of different smallholder cropping systems relative to forested peatlands in North Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. Specifically, GHG measurements using closed chambers, and peat sampling were carried out in both wet and dry seasons. Microbial phenotypic community structure was determined using phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Relative to forested peatlands, the agricultural plantations had increased pH, temperature and bulk density, decreased organic content, and peat moisture, with a pineapple intercropping site as the only exception. These effects were most pronounced in 2nd generation mono-cropping systems. Soil microbial community structure, dominated by Gram-positive bacteria under all land-use types, differed significantly between agricultural sites and forest, and also showed significant seasonal variation. There was a general increase in non-specific fatty acids and a decrease in Gram-positive fatty acids in agricultural sites from forest, however microbial community structure were similar in most agricultural sites. CO2 emissions were greatest at the forest site and showed no seasonal variations, however most of the forest CO2 emissions were most likely due to high autotrophic contribution from roots. CH4 emissions were under 1 mg m−2 h−1 for all the agricultural sites, while forest peat surface absorbed similar low quantity of CH4. Overall, the changes in peat properties and loss of C was greatest in the 2nd generation mono-cropping, while the intercropping systems ameliorated these effects by maintaining most of the forest peat organic content and causing relatively smaller changes in pH, moisture and bulk density. It is clear that oil palm intercropping have an ameliorating effect on environmental impacts caused by the expansion of oil palm plantations into peatlands.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 05 Environmental Sciences, 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, 16 Studies in Human Society
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Elsevier
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2020 10:58
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:53
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.02.012
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12268
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