Optimizing Fertilizer Input in Oil Palm Plantations

Dor Pundak
May 20, 2024

Optimizing FertilizerInput in Oil Palm Plantations

In the oil palm industry, fertilizers are crucial forpromoting vegetative growth and enhancing tree productivity, which influencestree health, bunch quantity, size, and oil yields. On average, matureplantations apply around 7 kilograms of fertilizer per tree annually.Fertilization plans are typically devised a year in advance based on data fromleaf and soil samples, tree age, and the total number of trees. Given the highmaterial costs and growing demand for precise fertilizer application, precisionagriculture is becoming increasingly important.

Main Challenges andSolutions

1. Imprecise BudgetPlanning

Imprecise budget planning can significantly impact theefficiency of fertilizer application:

  • Tree Inventory: Oil palm estates often have     3-5% missing trees. Accurate tree inventory is crucial to avoid     over-purchasing fertilizers and potentially save companies millions of     dollars. SeeTree's advanced algorithms achieve over 99% accuracy in tree     inventory counts, optimizing budget planning and enhancing profitability     by eliminating unnecessary expenditures.
  • Tree Health Assessment: Leaf samples are gathered to     evaluate the nutrient status of trees. The challenge is identifying and     sampling trees that truly represent the entire block. SeeTree's     proprietary AI tools analyze tree health at the individual tree level,     improving the precision of fertilizer budget planning and application.     This leads to better tree health, productivity, and profitability.
  • Mixed Size Blocks: Differentiating between mature     trees and replants is crucial as varying age groups require different     quantities of fertilizer. SeeTree’s platform excels in distinguishing tree     groups based on size, enabling tailored fertilizer application strategies     that ensure optimal fertilizer usage and maximize productivity.

2. Ensuring Work Performance Quality

Manual execution predominates fertilizing operations, withworkers assigned specific dosages for designated blocks. Ensuring accuratefertilizer application and maintaining workforce integrity are significantchallenges:

  • Accurate Fertilizer Application: Both under- and     over-application can negatively impact tree health and productivity.     Verifying that each tree receives the appropriate dosage is challenging.     SeeTree offers a mobile application that facilitates tracking and     monitoring of field execution. This app operates offline, syncing data     once an internet connection is established, and generates field reports     with photographic evidence for verification. Georeferenced maps ensure     worker accountability, requiring physical presence next to a tree when reporting,     which triggers alerts to supervisors if not adhered to.
  • Workforce Integrity: Ensuring reliable, high-quality     workers is a global challenge, especially in large-scale operations.     Limited supervisory oversight often leads to subpar performance. SeeTree’s     worker tracking feature, integrated within their app, uses mobile GPS to     provide transparency into worker locations within estate borders, ensuring     completion of daily operations without skipping locations.

3. Enhancing Mechanized Dispensing Efficiency

While manual labor is prevalent, a significant portion ofthe field is fertilized using tractors and machinery. Automating machinecontrol to prevent material dispensing near gaps, due to missing trees(averaging 3-5%), can significantly improve operational efficiency andcontribute to material savings. SeeTree collaborates with variousagri-companies to automate the control of mechanized fertilizer dispensers.Machines autonomously halt dispensing when approaching a missing tree, usinghigh-resolution maps detailing producing and missing trees with sub-metricprecision, in conjunction with hardware tailored for machinery operations.


At SeeTree, our commitment lies in continuously evolvingand tailoring our services to address the ever-evolving needs and predominantchallenges within the oil palm industry. We offer a comprehensive suite ofsolutions aimed at optimizing all facets of fertilization operations. Frommeticulous budget planning to seamless execution, whether manual or mechanized,we strive to extract meaningful insights to inform future planning endeavors.Our holistic approach ensures that we remain at the forefront of innovation,empowering our clients to navigate and thrive in a dynamic agriculturallandscape.


Explore More