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What determine smallholders' fertilization practices during the mature period of rubber plantations in Thailand?

Chambon B., Poveda-Chambon B., Chambon-Poveda B., Lai Dao X., Tongkaemkaew U., Gay F.. 2018. Experimental Agriculture, 54 (6) : p. 824-841.

DOI: 10.1017/S0014479717000400

Fertilization of rubber plantations has been poorly documented despite the huge economic and ecological impact of this tropical perennial crop, especially in Southeast Asia. The main objective of this paper is to provide information on the fertilization practices of rubber smallholders in Thailand and to investigate the drivers of these practices. Data were sourced from individual interviews conducted with 414 rubber smallholders. The results showed that 99.4% of the mature rubber plantations were fertilized with either chemical or organic fertilizers, or both. The average dose of chemical fertilizers was 105/53/92 kg ha-1 of N/P/K that is consistent with the national recommendations. We estimated that almost two-thirds of the plantations had intensive or very intensive fertilization practices. Geographical location, especially the distinction between historical and new rubber-producing areas, appeared as a major factor explaining differences in fertilization practices. Several drivers commonly found in the literature did not affect the fertilization practices of the rubber farmers, highlighting some specificity of perennial crops and a context where access to fertilizer was not an issue. The high economic and environmental costs of intensive fertilization practices, while their benefit to the yield of rubber plantations continues to be debated, show the need to conduct research on sustainable fertilization practices in rubber smallholdings. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : fertilisation; plantations; hévéa; maturité; engrais organique; engrais azoté; engrais potassique; rendement des cultures; petite exploitation agricole; latex; productivité; thaïlande; asie du sud-est

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