|Engr. Eddie Rodriquez explaining to the farmers the procedure of LLL|
Isabela is the second biggest rice producer in the Philippines and one of the country’s highly mechanized provinces in rice production. With the threat to food security due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mechanization will take an even bigger role in ensuring that the country will have enough food.
On 6 June 2020, the Water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments (WateRice) Project, through PhilRice-Isabela and in collaboration with Farmon Agri-Community Corporation (FarmOn), DA- Region 2, and the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-MARIIS) conducted a demonstration on laser-guided land leveling for farmers in Ramon, Isabela.
Laser-guided land leveling technology conserves water resources because water is evenly distributed across a well-leveled field while an unleveled field requires an additional 10% of the total water requirement to grow the crop. Having well-distributed water in rice fields controls weed growth resulting in reduced herbicide dependence. It also improves nutrient-use efficiency, promotes uniform crop growth and maturity, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
The collaboration started when FarmOn, a well-known crowdfunding, and machinery service provider, through Neil Archie Beltran, an officer of the company, made a presentation to presidents of the 106 Irrigators’ Association (IA) under NIA-MARIIS Division 2. As a WateRice partner, Mr. Beltran also included the project’s activities in his presentation. Many of the presidents were interested in laser land leveling demonstrations. Initially, demonstrations were conducted for two associations where water was scheduled to be released on 8 June.
Despite travel restrictions, WateRice mechanization team members Elmer Bautista of PhilRice and Joseph Sandro, an engineer at IRR’s Sustainable Impact Platform, organized the demonstration with the WateRice Project PhilRice-Isabela team led by Leo Javier, PhilRice branch director, and Engr. Quehly Jade Agpalza. FarmOn also lent its laser-land leveling unit for the demonstration.
“No pandemic can stop us from delivering the needed information on laser land leveling to farmers,” says Engr. Sandro.
Observing social distancing, around 40 farmers attended the demonstration. Participants came from various groups including Anos IA and Sibester IA in Ambatali, Ramon.
“Despite our limitations, as long as we can demonstrate to you the technology, we will do it,” says Engr. Javier.
Upon witnessing the technology in action, most of the farmers offered their lands to use for the demonstration of the technology.
“I will volunteer my field to be leveled because I know that I will benefit from it,” says Mr. Alfredo Delos Reyes, president of Sibester IA.
Eng.r Eddie Rodriguez of DA-Regional Field Office and WateRice focal person in Region 2 also served as a resource person.
“With the strong partnership among PhilRice, IRRI, NIA, FarmOn, and other sectors, we are confident that the Isabela will be the model on mechanized farming in Luzon or even the whole country,” says Dr. Bautista.
The team will continue conducting demonstrations and establishing adaptive trials across WateRice project sites. The project’s next target is to conduct a demonstration in other towns of Isabela and Quirino Province.
WateRice is a research and development collaborative project between the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhiRice), and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Aerial shot of the demonstration area of laser-guided land leveling.
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