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Title: Carbon dynamics in oil palm agro-ecosystems
Author: Manning, Frances C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 2711
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia are a globally important carbon store. Recent land use change has seen an increase in industrial plantations on these peatlands, predominantly for growing oil palm. Changing the land management alters the peat chemistry through the introduction of drainage ditches and the maintenance of low water tables to allow for crop root growth. In turn this reduces the anoxic conditions where CH4 is produced and increases the oxic environment allowing for peat oxidation via heterotrophic respiration (Rh) and the breakdown of CH4. However, large uncertainties surround the current estimates of CO2 and CH4 dynamics in oil palm plantations. This thesis characterizes the carbon losses from two oil palm plantations on peat soil. Oil palm plantations vary spatially with regular planting schemes and different surface management microforms: these include bare soil harvest paths, frond piles, cover plants and different sized drainage ditches. CO2 and CH4 flux rates and environmental conditions were measured from each microform, two different drain sizes and the surface of palm trees monthly (CO2 and stem) or bimonthly (CH4) for a year. Heterotrophic respiration (Rh) was partitioned out from total soil respiration. Rh formed the largest carbon loss in the plantation, ranging from 11.13 and 11.81 Mg CO2-C ha-1 yr-1 in Sebungan and 23.89 and 24.39 Mg CO2-C ha-1 yr-1 in Sabaju. CH4 fluxes were recorded from palm stems at rates of 0.094 kg C-CH4 ha-1 yr-1. CH4 oxidation was recorded on palm stems during high humidity. CH4 fluxes from the soil, drainage ditches and stems gave 61 kg CCH4 ha-1 yr-1, from either plantation, equivalent to undrained forests. Temperature (Sabaju) and hydrology (Sebungan) best explained soil carbon losses. Overall plantation carbon losses were 48.37 - 50.86 Mg CO2-eq ha-1 yr-1 in Sebungan and 95.58 - 97.41 Mg CO2-eq ha-1 yr-1 in Sabaju.
Supervisor: Teh, Yit Arn. ; Hill, Tim C. ; Khoon, Kho Lip. Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) ; Malaysian Palm Oil Board (Lembaga Minyak Sawit Malaysia)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Palm oil ; Plantations ; Peatlands ; Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry)