Agriculture after tin-mining in Indonesia

Together with the Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), researchers from the Institute of Soil Research, Agronomy, and Development Research are investigating the effects of locally available soil amendments on agricultural yield, soil fertility parameters, and the heavy metal contents in both harvested crops and post-tin mining soils.

Tin mining activities in Bangka Island produces large volumes of tailings which are low in nutrient availability and of limited use as substrates for plant growth. A joint research activity of the BOKU with the research team from the Institute of Soil Research (Katharina Keiblinger, Axel Mentler, Rebecca Hood-Nowotny), Institute of Agronomy (Gernot Bodner, Sabine Huber), as well as Institute of Development Research (Rosana Kral) and the partner University in Indonesia (Bambang Purwantana, Lilik Sutiarso, Sigit S. Arif, Ngadisih, Murtiningrum and Rizki Maftukhah, Department of Agricultural and Biosystem Engineering, Universitas Gadjah Mada) in addition to the local stakeholders, aims to investigate the impact of locally available soil amendments on the agricultural production in these post-mining lands, and their effects on crop performance, plant and soil heavy metal content, and the issues of local implementation ( 

To investigate these important parameters an experimental plot was set up in 2018, using different local soil amendments ( Results indicate that with the application of local soil amendments, such as charcoal and compost, the yields of the agricultural crops was increased, and the drought resistance improved (

These crops are tended by low- or no-income farmers, reliant on their harvest for subsistence. A grave concern for these residents is the heavy metals in their crops, a result of the enrichment of naturally occurring heavy metals in the soil due to the mining process. Therefore, the research team are currently evaluating the effects of local soil amendments on heavy metal concentrations in agricultural crops and soils. 

In this context a close collaboration with LVA GmbH (, one of the leading Austrian laboratories specialized on food safety and consumer protection, has been established and continues to investigate heavy metal content in agricultural crops to ensure the safety of the crops for local consumers on Bangka Island.

We are thankful for LVA’s support in this successful international cooperation project. We thank ASEA Uninet ( and Erasmus+ for providing travel grants to Indonesia, as well as the Indonesia-Austria Scholarship Program (collaboration between Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia and OeAD GmbH) for funding the doctoral studies of MSc Rizki Maftukhah at the Institute of Soil Research. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce the successful acquisition of a postdoctoral fellowship from UGM to continue our successful activities.