Best Management Practices
Our best management practices are a result of over a century of active agriculture in the tropics, going on 2 decades of compliance to credible certification standards and an ingrained corporate culture that stimulates innovation and continual improvement. All of our best management practices and sustainability compliance standards are implemented across our operations and third party suppliers.
SIPEF grows mostly perennial crops. Oil palm, rubber and tea have cultivation cycles of 25 years. Bananas have a 10 years average cycle in Ivory Coast.
Our tea plantation of Cibuni, on Java, dates back to 1902. The rubber plantation of Timbang Deli, on Sumatra, was started around 1911. The oil palm estate of Perlabian, also on Sumatra, was created around 1920, and remains one of our most productive oil palm plantations in Indonesia.
Our practices reflect this long relation with our plantations: careful selection of sites and of varieties; preservation of soil fertility; maximisation of yields; discerning crop protection, if possible through the anticipation of pests attacks; excellent processing; controlled and minimal environmental impact; constant search for more technological progress.
The expansion agriculture has a significant impact on biodiversity through loss of habitat. Secondary to this are impact related to the intensification of land use requiring the use of agrichemicals and soil tilling. To address this SIPEF has made the below commitments that apply to both its own operation and those of its suppliers.
No deforestation or planting on peat
Since November 2014 SIPEF has committed to no deforestation or new plantings on peat of any depth for all of our crops. All new developments undergo an integrated High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value Assessment in line with current relevant standards. For oil palm SIPEF is committed to the restoration of non-compliant land clearing our own operations and that of our third party FFB suppliers through respective compliance to the RSPO Remediation and Compensation Procedure.
Minimizing the use of agrichemicals
In comparison to most vegetable oils cultivation oil palm is a perennial crop which requires less land, less agrichemicals, causes less erosion and has higher indexes of biodiversity within production areas than the most prevalent annual crops like soy bean, rape seed, sunflower and corn. The below diagram compares the inputs between common vegetable oils.
These efficiencies are a result of the natural superiority of the crop as well intensive research and development to reach higher efficiency. SIPEF is committed to continuing innovation to decrease the land area requirement per ton of product and to decrease the utilization of agrichemicals per unit land area.
One of our greatest assets is soil. Since 2014 SIPEF is committed to no new plantings on peat of any depth. For existing plantations on peat, we are maximizing their productive life span through water management in compliance with RSPO drainage standards.
SIPEF is committed to minimize the reliance of chemical fertilizers while maintaining an increase in per hectare productivity. This commitment applies to all of our third party FFB suppliers.
Soil fertility is maintained and enhanced. In oil palm estates in particular, organic matter is returned to the field as much as possible. In palm oil estates all empty fruit bunches are applied to areas of mineral soils. At the Bukit Maradja Palm Oil Mill all of the palm oil mill effluent and empty fruit bunches are composted in at an industrial scale. Compost nutrients here are closely monitored replacing the need for equivalent chemical fertilizer in areas where compost is applied.
Soil erosion is avoided, especially at replanting. Cover crops are systematically used to prevent unnecessary soil damage.
No burning has been allowed in the field for thirty years.
One of our greatest enemies are pests and diseases. Luckily the palm oil industry has a long history of utilizing biocontrol agents, such as using a virus to control pests like Oryctes or encouraging the use of natural predators such as owls to control rodents.
SIPEF is committed to minimize the reliance of pesticides while maintaining an increase in per hectare productivity. This commitment applies to all of our third party FFB suppliers.
Major elements of this commitment require the following:
- For oil palm: compliance to the requirements of the RSPO (2018 Standard) namely no use of paraquat, no use of chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention and Rotterdam Convention or World Health Organisation (WHO) Class 1A and 1B pesticides.
- For tea, rubber and banana: compliance to the requirements of Rainforest Alliance as per their Lists for Pesticide Management, Lists of Prohibited and Risk Mitigation Use Pesticides.
Pests are controlled through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plans, specific to each region and crop. These plans are based on regular monitoring of the plantations, to determine when an intervention is necessary. The objective is not to eradicate pests, but to maintain them below acceptable thresholds. The first line of defense against natural pests is nature itself. IPM relies on natural predators of pests, and antagonistic plants. Chemicals are also used, in a controlled manner, and are assessed annually for their relevance.
Water usage and GHG
Our factories, and specifically the palm oil mills, are constantly searching for higher efficiency and an improved environmental footprint.
Water usage is monitored permanently and optimised. Waste water discharge and irrigation parameters are kept within the required legal and certification standard limits.
Major improvements have been implemented in terms of greenhouse gases (GHG). Five of our nine mills have been equipped with methane-capture mechanisms. The Mukomuko mill, in Sumatra, is now also producing electricity with a biogas generator. The electricity is fed to the national grid, supporting the efforts of Indonesia to extend power supply to remote areas.
In the Bukit Maradja palm oil mill, also in Sumatra, an advanced composting plant has been recently commissioned to produce high quality compost for our plantations. It maintains aerobic conditions throughout the process, which means that there is no production of methane when effluent from the mill is applied on the empty fruit bunches (EFB).
More details about our Best Management Practices and their impacts can be found in the Sustainability reports.