The Training Center Unit of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) conducted its first laser leveling course at IRRI Headquarters on 2 -5 February. The 4-day course is designed to train participants in 1) operating four-wheel tractors; 2) conducting field topographic surveys; 3) understanding the principles of laser leveling; 4) creating field plans for efficient laser leveling; 5) conducting laser leveling at a field; and 6) assembling and troubleshooting the equipment.
Eleven participants, including 1 female, from 5 countries in Southeast Asia attended the course. The participants appreciated the skills they acquired from the course. “I now know how to conduct laser leveling along with my father,” said Sengaloun Taimany, the lone female participant, from Lao PDR. “We can start a family business once we come back to Laos.” Budi Raharjo, a researcher from BPTP-Indonesia said he learned much from the training and now knows “90% about laser leveling.”
Martin Gummert, key scientist at the Postharvest and Mechanization of the Closing the rice yield gaps with reduced environmental footprint (CORIGAP) project,said the training could help trigger the awareness and use of laser leveling technology in the farmers fields of participating project countries like Myanmar, Indonesia and Thailand.
Laser-guided leveling, introduced by Spectra (now Trimble) in 1996, has changed land preparation operations. Studies proved that properly leveled fields increases yield from 5-15%. Other benefits of laser leveling include efficient use of water and fertilizer, and reduced labor use for weeding. The demand for laser leveling has increased due to national policies seeking to optimize rice production.
The training was conducted by Joseph Rickman, Martin Gummert, Carlito Balingbing, and Eugene Castro, Jr. A second course on laser leveling will be offered on 18-22 May 2015. For more details about the training, contact IRRITraining@irri.org.
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