In the new millennium, as Malaysia marches on to achieve its Vision 2020 of being a developed nation, the oil palm industry is playing its part by modernizing itself. As with all businesses, adoption of advanced technologies, that contribute to greater efficiency and higher productivity, will provide the producers with the competitive edge over those who continue to remain in their more traditional path. To meet the challenges of the changing need of the industry, better utilization of new technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS) and variable rate technologies (VRT) together with advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) are heralding in the knowledge (K)-based economy into the oil palm industry.
Producers are now giving greater emphasis on the knowledge required in the exploitation of the specific characteristics of the planting materials, soils and climatic resources. Further, the knowledge of fertilizer input use efficiency through proper zone, frequency, timing and method of application together with nutrient balance in relation to soil nutrient supply, crop removal and reduced nutrient losses from the agroecosystems are used in their effort to achieve maximum exploitation of site yield potential (MESYP). With the use of the modern technologies such as GPS, GIS, VRT and ICT in concert, producers have moved MESYP forward by phasing out whole field from being treated as homogenous units for application with the same rate of fertilizers and by focusing on precision agriculture based on management of several site-specific units within a field for variable rates of fertilizer application.
Produces by doing so can now capitalize on the spatial variability of the soils within a field and manage the field as a collection of many smaller site-specific units which can now be optimally cared for. This innovative approach, called PORIM INFORMS is an acronym of the Innovative Fertilizer Organizational Management System for quick monitoring and application of inputs at specific sites within a field. The expected gains are improved productivity, competitive edge, cost saving and concomitant regulation of the ecosystem. Further INFORMS in complementing sustainable practices will propel the plantation industry to be among the leaders in the K-based economy in Malaysia especially in the effort in globalization of palm oil in the world oils and fats market.