How to set up a TSD department
Large scale plantations (>10,000 ha) should consider the need to establish a Technical Services Department (TSD) staffed by qualified agronomists that implement the following:
- Establishment of a grid of datum points for leaf and soil sampling (i.e., LSU palms every tenth row and every tenth palm in every block).
- Soil and leaf analysis to determine the nutrient status of soils and palms.
- Optimizing oil extraction ratios (OERs) by first ensuring adequate access from mill to palm, second controlling harvest intervals (HI), third ensuring complete crop recovery (CCR), and fourth setting appropriate minimum ripeness standards (MRS) (i.e., 10 loose fruit on the ground before bunch harvest).
- Factorial fertilizer trials and omission plots to determine the most cost effective use of mill and crop residues and fertilizer.
- Suitable techniques for the biological, chemical and physical management of pests and diseases.
- Management of an Agronomic Information Management System (AIMS) to collate and analyse plantation agronomic data.
- Best Management Practice (BMP) blocks (1 block per 1,000 ha) where all agronomic practices are implemented without compromise to determine site yield potential.
- Compilation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and staff training in agronomic skills.
- Production of georeferenced maps that show plantation layout (blocks, roads, drains, irrigation, LSU palms), thematic maps showing agronomic parameters, and isometric maps showing palm points.
TCCL can assist plantations in setting up and managing suitable programmes.