We produce oil palm weevils, coat them with pollen and release them by drone. Using their natural flower searching behavior, our insects deliver pollen precisely into the flowers.
The oil yield of oil palm plantations is a function of the number of female flowers per area unit and the pollination rate of female flowers. Only the female flowers give Fresh Fruit Bunches, and only the fruits contain oil. The number of fruits developing per FFB (fruit set rate) depends on the pollination rate. The pollination rate in turn depends on the number of pollinators and the number of male flowers because the pollinators take the pollen from the male flowers and carry it to female flowers. So, oil palm yield depends on the number of pollinators. Specific for oil palm is that only a single insect functions as pollinator: the oil palm weevil (Elaeidobius kamerunicus). Oil palm weevils can only reproduce in male oil palm flower bunches.
Plantations have optimized yield through maximization of female flower production per area unit. This has removed the natural breeding ground for the oil palm weevil, namely the male flower, and so reduced the pollination rate, fruit set rate, and oil extraction rate. In other words, it has reduced oil yield and return.
Various technologies have been developed by the oil palm industry, based on box technology making local weevil reproduction centers and discharge points of weevils in oil palm stands (‘Hatch & Carry’). The adoption level in the industry is still low, most likely because the current technologies depend entirely on field level implementation, while the industry as a whole is characterized by huge variation in ability in field level implementation capacity, and willingness to pay for productivity increasing technologies and additional labor.
Canopy Guard has developed a simple and ready technology and is developing a high-tech method to produce oil palm weevils. The insects are coated with oil palm pollen and released in plantations by drone. The drone release mechanism is a proprietary system of our investor Koppert Biological Systems. The system is used for release of biocontrol agents in Brazil, USA, Spain, and France. Our pollination technology is based on the weevils’ natural flower searching behavior, ranging 200 meters from release point, delivering pollen to female flowers.
Improved pollination leads to increased oil extraction rate (OER) from harvested FFB. Starting from a medium level of fruit set (~70%), we can increase OER by up to 30%. If fruit set is low (
Improved pollination leads to increased fruit set rate, higher oil extraction rate and higher oil yield per area. Increased area productivity reduces the need for expansion of oil palm plantations, thereby protecting natural habitats.
Plantations between 3 and 9 years after replanting often experience low pollination rates, particularly in Kalimantan, but also Sumatra. Our service can be used for the period with low pollination, and terminated once natural pollination is sufficient.