Thursday, July 12, 2018

Philippine partners learn about mechanized straw collection

Rice straw is a major residue in Philippine rice farms. Due to lack of awareness about properly disposing rice straw, farm owners resort to burning tons of the material, which in turn exposes the environment to major hazards. The negative effects of burning rice straw not only affects the farmers, but everything and everyone in the vicinity. 

One of the major technological developments that makes rice straw disposal more efficient is the rice straw baler. This machine can pick up and collect loose straw in the field, and reduce it into compact bales that can be easily handled and transported to areas where it can be used further. Using this machine reduces labor requirement by 90% compared with manually collecting the rice straw spread out in the field. 

To introduce the principle of rice straw baler as a technology option for sustainable rice straw management in the Philippines, fourteen female and male participants from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization and Philippine Carabao Center were trained to operate and troubleshoot rice straw balers at the IRRI Zeigler Experiment Station. The training includes lectures and hands-on exercises that helped participants understand principles of round and square rice straw baler machine and learn proper techniques in the operation and maintenance of rice straw baler. The training was spearheaded by Carlito Balingbing, IRRI Senior Associate Scientist. At the end of the exercise, participants were able to operate the baler machine and produce baled straw. 

Terence Ancheta, a representative from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, said “Operating a machine like the rice straw baler helps us understand and experience what a suitable straw baler is, and how it can help us properly manage rice straw in the field. It also helped us generate a criteria for suitable rice straw balers tailor-fit for farm conditions in the Philippines.” 

“Through this training, I had the opportunity to drive a tractor, operate a baler machine, and even had the practical experience of baling straw from it. I have no prior knowledge about this technology, and it helped me discover a more sustainable option in disposing rice straw.” said Charity Castillo from Philippine Carabao Center.  

“I’m very happy to see everyone generate their capacities in operating machines. This event is our first important step towards improving rice straw management in the Philippines, and we look forward to our next accomplishments in this important initiative” said Martin Gummert, IRRI’s Cluster Leader on mechanization and postharvest.

The training was held on 28-29 June 2018, at the Zeigler Experiment Station in IRRI Headquarters.

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