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Cattle-grazing in oil palm plantations sustainably controls understory vegetation

Tohiran, Kamil A.; Nobilly, Frisco; Zulkifli, Raja; Ashton-Butt, Adham; Azhar, Badrul


Kamil A. Tohiran

Frisco Nobilly

Raja Zulkifli

Adham Ashton-Butt

Badrul Azhar


Oil palm agricultural practices need to be substantially changed in order to meet the global demand for more ethical and sustainable farming. Livestock integration is an innovative method to control understory vegetation in oil palm plantations, while reducing the need for chemical herbicides, as well as providing additional food security, ecosystem services, and habitat heterogeneity. Understory vegetation is important for faunal biodiversity in oil palm plantations, however it is often decimated by the over usage of herbicides. To determine how cattle-grazing affected the growth of understory vegetation, we collected data from 45 plantations, in Peninsular Malaysia, including those integrated with cattle and without them. Our results revealed that the plantations integrated with cattle had on average 20% more undergrowth coverage, but no difference in undergrowth height, therefore, maintaining undergrowth at an acceptable height for harvesters to access oil palms. We recommend cattle-grazing as a method for oil palm stakeholders to maintain manageable undergrowth and align with sustainable palm oil certification policy by reducing their use of chemical herbicides. To promote cattle-oil palm integration, specific policies are needed to strengthen financial and technical support.


Tohiran, K. A., Nobilly, F., Zulkifli, R., Ashton-Butt, A., & Azhar, B. (2019). Cattle-grazing in oil palm plantations sustainably controls understory vegetation. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment, 278, 54-60.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 24, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2019
Publication Date 2019-06
Deposit Date Apr 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 30, 2020
Journal Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment
Print ISSN 0167-8809
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 278
Pages 54-60
Keywords Agronomy and Crop Science; Ecology; Animal Science and Zoology
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Cattle-grazing in oil palm plantations sustainably controls understory vegetation; Journal Title: Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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