MBL has always placed emphasis in research and development on various aspects of palm oil cultivation and management, and a good deal of research has been put on palm oil waste management. Most present agronomic and waste management practices are based on long term trial results, emphasizing on sustainable productivity and environmental conservation.
It is a genuine concern that agriculture, a fundamental element to the existence of mankind, is also responsible for the many environmental ills plaguing the world today. Many agricultural and industrial activities inevitably raise environmental issues; oil palm processing and cultivation are no different. Unregulated palm oil cultivation may result in soil erosion that may cause loss of soil fertility and land degradation, and this is rampant in particularly in the tropics. Chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides and other agrochemicals, which have become an integral and indispensable component of modern agriculture, besides increasing production, are known for their adverse side effects as eutrophication of fresh and marine waters, excessive nitrate leaching into ground water and the introduction of pesticide residues in food, soil and water. Similarly, processing of agricultural produce also contributes to pollution. Food processing industries generate large quantities of effluent with a high Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) which, when discharged untreated into watercourses, brings negative effects to aquatic life and domestic water supply.
Palm oil mill effluent (POME) waste treatment plants cater all raw effluent produced. Approximately 0.65 tonnes of raw POME is produced for every ton of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) processed. In 2003, a total of 2,106,956 tonnes of FFB were processed, resulting in 1,369,521 tonnes of POME being produced.
Enter MBL’s EFB composting system. Our EFB composting system offers an effective solution to the oil palm industry’s problem of waste disposal. The composting system utilizes 100% POME and EFB and uses a technically advanced method of converting waste matters into compost. Part of the process involve EFB shredding using a high speed hammer mill and then stacked into windrows of 1.5 meter high by 45 meter length in an open field. POME with BOD levels less than 10,000 ppm is then pumped from the pond and sprayed onto these windrows at a specified rate at 3 days intervals. The windrows are turned regularly using a windrow-turner for better mixing and aeration. Composting accelerants are sprayed once at the start of the process to accelerate the composting process. Throughout the composting process, the windrows are covered by an air-permeable covering to avoid drenching by heavy rain and to prevent leaching of nutrients. The c overing is crucial for the control of temperature and moisture content, two key factors that affect the speed of composting and quality if the end product. The compost is mature after 70 days and is ready for use. The compost, when used in sufficient quantity, is capable of replacing 66% of chemical fertilizers.