University of Nottingham Malaysia
Crops for the Future Research Centre


Project concept note

Expanding on the 1Malaysia Biomass Alternative Strategy (1MBAS)

Problem statements

  • Over‐dependence on fossil fuels from rapidly depleting resources is  a global issue.
  • Malaysia recently launched 1MBAS to support development of renewable energy from biomass sources to reduce national reliance on fossil fuel for economic growth.
  • Most biomass in Malaysia is derived from agricultural wastes, over 90% of which comes from the monoculture of oil palm.
  • Underutilised species could provide abundant, sustainable, ecosystem resilient and cost effective sources of biomass for  renewable energy in association with that from oil palm.


  • To develop new underutilised crop options that provide complementary and sustainable sources of biomass for renewable energy to that from oil palm.
  • To provide economically viable and resilient options for energy‐derived well‐being and income generation of small farmers and rural communities.
  • To optimise agricultural productivity per unit area of plantation by efficient use of natural resources (light, soil and land space, moisture, biodiversity) through species diversification.
  • To improve the environmental resilience of the oil palm production system to meet the requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and similar initiatives especially in the area of biodiversity, habitat conservation and reduced pesticide use and carbon footprint.
  • To provide a methodological framework for sustainable expansion and management of oil palm diversification for ecosystem and economic resilience.  


Commercially viable underutilised biomass species in association with oil palm underpinned by scientific understanding of canopy scale processes operating in diversified vegetation systems.

Programme concept

  • Use the CFFRC Field Centre as a multiple level case‐study of candidate underutilised species within an existing oil palm plantation, simultaneous and subsequent to replanting of oil palm and under varying canopy combinations ranging from monoculture to complex intercrops.
  • Provide a systematic, long‐term (5‐7 years), multidisciplinary  molecular to marketing), multilevel (soil to atmosphere), and multi‐location (partner sites) transition study from monoculture to potential poly‐culture `biomass plantations of the future.’
  • Use remote sensing, mathematical biology and modelling approaches to predict optimal and ecosystem resilient management systems for biomass plantations of the future.

Potential partners

  • University of Nottingham
  • Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)
  • private plantation groups
  • rural community organisation

Programme activities 

BiomassPlus links CFFRC with partners in Malaysia and beyond. Initial programme opportunities will focus on objective selection of candidate species, the development, experimental use and analysis of the CFFRC field site as a base for intensive study and extrapolation to other 
locations and environments.

Research will span agronomic, ecophysiological and environmental studies at the canopy and field scale, processing and energy values of plant products, economic and  operational analysis of the chain from production to end use and the integration of selected species within the oil palm production system.

Application information

Completed applications should be submitted by Friday 1 June 2012 to:


For more information about this project please direct enquiries to:





Crops for the Future Research Centre

University of Nottingham Malaysia
Jalan Broga, 43500 Semenyih
Selangor Darul Ehsan

telephone: +6 (03) 8924 8799
fax: +6 (03) 8924 8798