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Swamp Development in Indonesia
Reclaimed swamp land in South Kalimantan
Fisherman with rice fields in background
Acid Sulphate Soils and Peat soils. In the coastal zones of Indonesia there are 6-8 million ha of mineral and peaty soils, containing pyrite. (Acid Sulphate soils) and there are about 16 million ha of deep Peat soils. That makes Indonesia the country with the far largest area of pyritic soils in the world and one of the largest with peat soils. Reclamation and Development of both soil types is very environmental sensitive. That fact resulted in the recent past in intense discussions whether these wetland/swamp areas should be protected against any type of reclamation. In my opinion a discussion, pro or contra, that is not effective, because these lands are opened up anyhow at a very fast rate. In my believe, most needed are clear management policies how to sustain that development with new techniques. Failures to sustain development will increase the pressure on Protected Areas in the Swamps, especially by illegal logging.
Management for Peat lands. Major parts in the Tidal Swamps are under severe threat of complete destruction. This applies especially to the Forestry Concessions on the peat soils. This Website explains why Forestry by Selective Cutting on peat soils is in most cases not sustainable under natural conditions. A new technology for Forestry on peat soils is presented as a possible alternative to selective cutting practices to protect the natural environment in the existing remaining forests as much as possible. A more extensive description of the conditions and hazards of a not sustainable development of peat (Gambut) areas is given in my note: Ombrogenous Peat Swamps and Recommended Uses in Tropical Areas. (pdf file; Right click Ombrogenous Peat Swamps and use Save Target as.. (for Windows Internet Explorer) or Save Link as.. (for Mozilla Firefox))
Management of Acid Sulphate Soils. This Website claims that a new type of water management system , as used in ISDP for acid sulphate soils, is sustainable for agriculture in the Indonesian conditions. The acidity problems with very low yielding rice fields or even abandoned areas can be solved at reasonable costs as proven in the Model areas with local farmers. For the developed swamp areas the Website focuses on improving the rice fields and it presents means to reduce the environmental impacts in existing Swamp Schemes. The Water Management System is the key for sustainable rice yields in Swamp Schemes. Leaching of toxic elements in the root zone of rice plays a critical role in this water management. The most efficient method of leaching is mechanised land preparation, combined with extra water supply by pumping when puddling the rootzone soil, applying mechanized land preparation. An on-farm water management system is required to flush out the toxics.
To see the maps of the Nation Wide Study of coastal and near-coastal swamplands of Indonesia (1984) click Nation Wide. Next click the map you want to see or Right Click the map you want to download and use Save Target as.. (for Windows Internet Explorer) or Save Link as.. (for Mozilla Firefox)) For viewing the legend for the hydro maps: click Hydro Central Sumatra or Hydro West Kalimantan or Hydro Central Irian
Problems: Development of the Tidal Lowlands, especially for the rice cultivation, has been so far slow and previous investment have been in many ways not sustainable, a main complain of the World Bank. There are three major problems encountered.
First: In places the water management infra-structure is not adequate. Mainly because the absence of an intensive tertiary and quaternary ditch system that could be managed by flushing the water in the canals.
Second: The lack of labour, combined with the limited financial resources of farmers in Tidal Lowlands are a main cause of its low yields in many areas.
(See also webpage Discussion land & water resources, Indonesia ).
For design lay-out of suitable for Tidal Lowlands: see the webpage Macro-Design. Recommended is a system without dead-ended canals to avoid stagnant water and toxic water problems near the dead-ends of the canals. This important and essential to reach high levels of yields for the whole developed area.
As a consequence it is essential to understand that Tidal Lowland Development was from the beginning a phased development with low inputs and low yields at the start. Further inputs should follow however an integrated approach and aimed to assess needed inputs to increase yields and cropping intensities. Only in this way the inputs will be sustainable and not be lost. This might require a range of technical as well as institutional inputs.
Mechanization and Post-Harvest Management. It appears that, beside the water management, both the mechanization, broadcast seeding and post-harvest management play an essential role to improve yields and to make two crops a year possible for farmers. More information is found on webpage Agriculture.
The Indonesian Government has so far adopted a multi-stage implementation strategy for swamp development, starting with low-cost development. Seen the problems caused by this phased development, it could be argued this approach needs revision and a more advanced integrated approach might be needed for further development. The last 30 years the Ministry of Public Works has been responsible for the reclamation of the swamps. Also the Ministry of Agriculture is increasingly involved in the development of the swamps; particularly lately in South Sumatra province.
See also the FAQ's (Frequent Asked Questions) on webpage Discussion.
Many reclaimed Tidal Lowland Swamp areas with good potentials stil have low yields, while others have yields of 6-8 tons/ha: WHY? See page Agriculture-Mechanization.
Aspects of successful Lowland Development
As a Consultant I have worked for the Ministry of Public Works , the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry. The views expressed in this Web site are my own responsibility and are not necessarily the same as the views of the Indonesian Government. Lately I worked as examinator for Indonesian students, active in lowland development.
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This page was last updated: 07-mrt-2011
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