Using repeat airborne LiDAR to map the growth of individual oil palms in Malaysian Borneo during the 2015–16 El Niño

Lucy Beese, Michele Dalponte, Gregory P. Asner, David A. Coomes, Tommaso Jucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Making oil palm agriculture as efficient as possible is essential to ensuring that this economically important crop can be grown sustainably. To determine how oil palm growth rates vary across tropical landscapes, we used repeat airborne LiDAR data to map the height growth of >500,000 oil palms in Malaysian Borneo over a two-year period coinciding with the 2015–16 El Niño drought. Despite uncharacteristically dry and hot weather conditions, oils palms grew an average of 1.6 m yr−1 in height over this period. However, oil palm growth rates varied across the landscape and in relation to plant age, tending to be fastest for younger individuals growing closer to forest edges, further from rivers and at higher elevations. Our results highlight the ability of oil palms to grow even during periods of drought and showcase how cutting-edge remote sensing technologies can help improve the efficiency and sustainability of oil palm agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103117
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Volume115
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Change detection
  • Drought
  • Plant growth
  • Precision agriculture
  • Remote sensing
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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