Thursday, May 29, 2014

First-of-its-kind seed driller makes deep impact at field demo

By Bianca Ferrer

A new seed driller, designed by IRRI scientists for planting rice, maize, and mung bean, was field-tested before 100 farmer-leaders, municipal agricultural officers, and other representatives in San Nicolas, Pangasinan, Philippines on May 21-22.  Unlike other models, the new multi-purpose seed driller does not require a four-wheel tractor to operate, making it ideal for farmers in rainfed lowland areas with smaller farms.

The machine was conceptualized and designed by IRRI agronomist Yoichiro Kato and his team to provide farmers with the option to directly sow rice and other crops in their field eliminating the need to prepare nursery beds and transplant the seedlings.  The problem with this, according to Dr. Kato, wasn’t simply the time and energy spent. More often than that, when rains don’t come, the rice seedlings cannot be transplanted or even die in the nursery so farmers need to repeat the process. Using their seed driller, it becomes possible for farmers to easily sow dry seeds directly into the dry soil so that their fields are ready when the rains come.

“For rice, the amount of seeds needed is only 30-35 kilos per hectare compared with 2 bags for a hectare,” explained   NiƱo Banayo, an associate scientist with Dr. Kato’s team. When it comes to sowing maize, the seed driller doesn’t only just drop seeds, but also fertilizer so farmers can save on two operations—sowing and fertilizing–at the same time.

“I think this program is very good because it gives us an opportunity to see what we can adopt in our area especially those without irrigation,” said Reynaldo Dotimas, Municipal Agricultural Officer of San Nicolas, Pangasinan.  Apart from the advantages of direct seeding, Dr. Dotimas also noted that, because the driller sows in rows, farmers wouldn’t have a hard time with harvesting and weeding.  The multi-purpose seed driller features adjustable parts which control the distance between the rows.

Rebecca Saldivar, mayor of San Nicolas, also thanked and congratulated Dr. Kato’s team for their endeavor.  “On behalf of the good and humble people of San Nicolas, we would like to thank you for all your efforts and sacrifices in making this demo-training possible,” Hon. Saldivar said. “We pray that God will bless you and your Institute. May He give you more wisdom and more ideas, more technologies and breakthroughs in agriculture that could eventually help our farmers not only here, but the entire Philippines.”

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