Thursday, February 3, 2011

Filipino Farmers Using Rice Technology

Hundreds of Bicol farmers are now equipped with the PalayCheck technology providing them an integrated rice management approach that aims to develop their capability to effectively manage their rice farms and improve their crop yield. Last week, 245 rice farmers from seven towns of the Bicol provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay graduated from the two-season Location Specific Technology Development (LSTD) on Palay Check training provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) The training was conducted in cooperation with the DA’s Bicol Experiment Station here with the local government units (LGUs) of the participating municipalities — Pamplona, Libmanan, Nabua, Calabanga and this capital town for Camarines Sur and Oas and Camalig for Albay. During the graduation rites, Diego Ramos, the PhilRice Los BaƱos branch manager urged the farmer-graduates to be vigilant in monitoring their farms and to religiously apply all the eight key palay checks they learned from the training. The checks that revolve on seed quality, land preparation, crop establishment, pest management, and harvest management are the following: Key check 1 Use certified seeds of a recommended variety. The seed of a recommended variety is certified by the National Seed Quality Control Service as shown by a blue tag attached to the sack. Foundation and registered seeds from accredited seed growers are also acceptable. Key check 2 No high and low soil spots after final leveling. The field should have no visible mound of soil above the water surface (two cm- three cm deep) after the final leveling. Key check 3 Practice synchronous planting after a fallow period. At least 75 percent of the fields serviced by a lateral canal of the irrigation service have been plowed before sowing the seeds. After a fallow period of 30 days, the field should have been planted within seven days before and seven days after majority of the irrigation service area has been planted. Key check 4 Sufficient number of healthy seedlings. For transplanted rice, the seed rate is 20 kilogram (kg) per (/) hectare (ha), 40 kg/ha for inbred and 15 kg/ha-20 kg/ha for hybrid. Replant missing hills within seven days after transplanting (DAT) and assess the health status of seedlings at 10 DAT. There should be at least 25 hills per sq m. In every parcel, randomly select 10 hills each and find out if each hill has at least one healthy seedling. For direct wet-seeded rice, the plant density at 15 days after seeding (DAS) for a rate of 40 kg of seeds/ha should be at least 150 plants per sq m. For a seed rate of 80 kg/ha. The plant density should be at least 300 plants per sq m. Key check 5 Sufficient nutrients at early panicle initiation (EPI) to flowering. If the leaf color chart reading at EPI is below four for transplanted rice or below three for direct wet seeded rice, apply 1.5 bags urea/ha in the dry season or one bag urea/ha in the wet season. At flowering, transplanted rice should have at least 300 plants/sq m, while direct wet-seeded rice should have at least 350 plants/sq m. Key check 6 Avoid excessive water or drought stress that could affect the growth and yield of the crop. There should be no symptoms of stress due to excessive water at vegetative stage like reduced tillering and leaf area. Excessive water means water depth greater than 5 cm for 7 days or more. At vegetative stage, there should also be no symptoms of drought like leaf rolling, leaf tip drying, and reduced leaf area, height and tiller number. From panicle initiation to grain filling, there should be no symptoms of stress due to drought like leaf rolling, leaf tip drying, reduced panicle exertion, and many unfilled grains. Key check 7 No significant yield loss due to pests. There should be no significant yield loss due to insect pests, diseases, weeds, rats, snails, and birds. Significant pest damage occurs when one or more pests cause damage on the crop. It will do well for farmers to familiarize themselves in identifying the insect pests and diseases of rice as well as how damage should be assessed. Key check 8 Cut and thresh the crop at the right time. Harvest the crop when one-fifth or 20 percent of the grains at the base of the panicle are in hard dough stage. Press a grain from the base of the panicle between the thumb and forefinger to assess hard dough stage. Most of the grains in the panicle will be golden yellow. Thresh the palay 1-2 days after harvest. Palay Check is a technology developed by the PhilRice and being adopted by the DA for its agricultural program anchored on the “Agri-Pinoy” framework which promotes the principles of sustainable agriculture, natural resource-based management, food security and local development, according to DAR regional executive director for Bicol Jose Dayao. He said the farmers’ role in achieving food sufficiency is very vital hence; part of the Agri-Pinoy program is to train farmers especially on producing their own seed or seed banking. Dayao also revealed that the DA regional office here will establish a seed storage facility in Bicol to ensure seed supply at any time. The initial batch of 245 Bicol rice farmers who completed the technology training became part of the 500,000 farmers nationwide being targeted by the PhilRice to be provided with this technical assistance that would help improve their farm practices and rice yield, he added. The PhilRice introduced the technology in 2008 and to reach the targeted half a million farmers throughout the country, the Institute trained 8,000 agricultural extension workers that now serve as its technology transfer arm assigned in 48 low-yielding provinces in the country. These areas include the four Bicol provinces in its mainland—Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon. Given that more and more farmers have been getting interested with the Palay Check System on learning that the yields of those who have adopted it have increased, Ramos said “we are now on the double training an increasing number of farmers. Research results of PhilRice specialists show that the more key checks farmers attain the higher their yields become.”