Sustainable Oil Palm Farming / Applying potassium (K)

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Figure 21: This fertiliser should be spread better.

Download: Module 4: Fertiliser Application



  • Provide oil palms with sufficient potassium to produce optimum yields;
  • Limit the loss of potassium to the environment.


Potassium fertiliser is applied according to the 4R principle: right type, right amount, right place, right time.


Not during very wet periods.


  • Most soil types: 2—3 doses per year (once every 4—6 months);
  • Very sandy soils and peat soils: 3—4 doses per year (once every 3—4 months).

Labour time required

2—4 hours per hectare.

Equipment and materials

  • Bucket, bag or wheelbarrow
  • Kitchen scales
  • Black marker pen
  • Bowl of 1.5—2 L
  • Fertiliser



Farmers and their families or hired labourers.


Apply potassium fertiliser by following these steps:

Step 1. Before application, remove noxious weeds and slash ground cover to 50 cm height.
Step 2. Weigh the amount of fertiliser to be applied in a bowl or cup, using kitchen scales.
Step 3. Mark the bowl / cup at the right amount using a black marker pen.
Step 4. Break up any fertiliser clumps into small pieces before application (see Figure 21).
Step 5. Apply the fertiliser in the following way:
  • For palms younger than 7 years after planting, K should be applied evenly in the weeded circle;
  • For palms 7—10 years after planting, K should be applied in a band around the weeded circle;
  • For palms greater than 10 years after planting, K should be broadcast over the frond stack and in the inter-row, apart from the harvesting path;
  • Apply bunch ash in the weeded circle 1.

If palms are on the edge of a river, road or ditch, avoid applying fertilisers on the side of the palm closest to the edge (if fertiliser is being broadcast).

Data recording

Every fertiliser application should be recorded in a log book as shown in the example below.

Date Time Location Activity Input type Input amount Input costs Labour input Labour costs
People Hours
16/01/13 Field 3 Fertiliser: K KCl 150 kg 840000 1 4 40000


  1. H. Othman, T.M. Ahmad, T.D. Mohd, Bunch ash: an efficient and cost-effective K fertilizer source for mature oil palm on peat under high rainfall environment, MPOB Information Series, 258 (2005).


The material from Applying potassium (K) is sourced from Smallholder Oil Palm Handbook and put together by Lotte Suzanne Woittiez (Wageningen Universit) and Haryono Sadikin, Sri Turhina, Hidayat Dani, Tri Purba Dukan, and Hans Smit (SNV) in August 2016. See Module 4: Fertiliser Application for more information.

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