Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)’s researchers have devised a technology to accelerate the degradation of oil palm trunk and root mass especially those infected with basal stem rot (BSR) disease.
BSR is caused by Ganoderma boninense, a white-rot fungus that attacks oil palm roots and infects young and mature oil palms. The young oil palms with symptoms of BSR disease usually die within six to 24 months whereas, the mature oil palms can take approximately two to three years to die. Ganoderma boninense tends to survive on oil palm biomass left behind after felling at replanting and could infect the newly replanted oil palm trees in the plantations, if not treated.
The technology, launched at the Transfer of Technology Seminar and Exhibition 2019, is ready for commercialisation. It has a market value of RM 3.7 million at present, with an internal rate of return (IRR) at 36.25% and 5.5 years of investment recovery.
Led by Dr Yuvarani Naidu, the MPOB research team has formulated solid-state cultivation (SCC) containing Pycnoporus sanguineus, which occurs naturally on oil palm trunks and has shown the ability to act antagonistically against Ganoderma boninense.
SCC containing Pycnoporus sanguineusis the potential alternative for a biotechnological approach under the waste management programme.
Functioning as biological control agents, the SCC can accelerate the decaying process of stumps and trunks of oil palm especially those infected with Ganoderma species in an eco-friendly manner.
According to Dr Yuvarani, the technology is cost-effective and eco-friendly compared to other mitigations method in the management of Ganoderma infection. Further, it added nutrients value to the soil, a practical Integrated Pests Management (IPM) strategy especially at replanting stage and most importantly, the technology offers a sustainable way to speed up waste recycling of root mass, stumps, and trunks of oil palm biomass.
Field trial conducted by MPOB reported that the efficacy of 500g of SCC containing Pycnoporus sanguineus in decaying diseased trunks is about 40% to 55% for the healthy trunk, after 10 months of application.
Meanwhile, in her recently published study in Crop Protection, Dr. Yuvarani’s team also revealed that the oil palm seedlings aged three-month-old artificially inoculated with Pycnoporus sanguineus remained healthy and no symptoms were observed at either foliar or internal bole base of the oil palm seedlings.
Besides that, the growth of these seedlings was physically similar to the controls, those that are not artificially inoculated with Pycnoporus sanguineus. This suggests that Pycnoporus sanguineusis not harmful to the oil palm seedlings and possesses the potential use as biological agents against Ganoderma boninense in the oil palm plantations.