Saturday, March 3, 2012

Irrigating rice-based crops: The low-cost way

The farming circle has probably reached the tipping point where the word “irrigation” is almost synonymous to pulling off wads of cash. Not in anyone’s wildest imagination could it be equated to being low cost.

But then, that is probably why we need to imagine further. Irrigation can be low cost as the PhilRice researchers based in Batac, Ilocos Norte would prove.

With the rather dry environment, water is indeed a scarce resource in Batac. Rain comes almost only in June to November—hardly enough to irrigate the crops planted in the province. Hence, the challenge is to do more with literally “less.”

Engr. Noel Ganotisi, Engr. Romel Batuac, and Dr. Reynaldo Castro are developing the low cost drip irrigation system (LDIS) for rice-based high value crops such as bitter gourd. The ultimate aim is to meet the water requirements of the crops despite water issues.

The team first had an experiment in the station, which ran for 6 months, from January to June 2010 on a 250 sqm plot of bitter gourd. The experiment endeavoured to use locally available materials so anyone could replicate the technology.

“Except for the dripper, all materials are available in Batac,” Ganotisi said.

The LDIS used plastic drum, control valves, filter, mainline and manifold, and lateral lines (moldex hose).

Ganotisi likewise highlighted that LDIS only required about PhP 30,000, 53 to 72% lower than the commercial irrigation dripping system for 1,000 sqm plot!

When it comes to performance, the LDIS also showed impressive results. Ganotisi and his team reported 55% of saved water using LDIS – an amount enough to irrigate other crops, something that could have just been wasted if conventional furrow irrigation was used.

Application efficiency of LDIS also showed favorable results. Application efficiency is the percentage ratio between the volume of water beneficially used by the crop and the volume of water delivered to the area. In simpler terms, it speaks of how efficiently the water was used.

“It’s indeed very efficient. This can be explained by the fact that water was applied “at the root zone of the bitter gourd,” Ganotisi said. This way, less water is applied “unlike in furrow irrigation where wider area is irrigated since more water is needed to run in furrows. Even those spaces that do not need to be wetted are irrigated when using furrow method”.

Consequently, the team reported that LDIS-irrigated bitter gourd produced slightly higher marketable fruits (78.62%) than those irrigated using conventional furrow irrigation (77.02%). Additionally, a return on investment of 85% over a one year period was reported.

Trying it out on field

After the station testing, the team started the on-site trial in Currimao, Ilocos Norte. While still months away from harvest, the farmer-cooperator could already enumerate a couple of advantages in using LDIS.

“This is user-friendly for women and for aging farmers. Once the containers are filled, I only need to turn on and off the drippers and all’s done! I can now focus on my other tasks,” said Agnes Asuncion, 51. Agnes is into making soaps, something she learned from a DOST training.

Eduardo Asuncion, 67, Agnes’s husband, said that setting up was likewise easy. He said that he could follow what Engr. Ganotisi and his team taught him.

During the interview, the couple added that the technology is apt for upland and rainfed areas. They also attested that the conventional method of irrigating their crops was laborious.

“The conventional method was a bit tedious, and aging farmers will certainly have issues with it,” Agnes said.

At a time when the challenge is to make do with scarce resources, innovations as this should be encouraged. What’s more, this is an inexpensive innovation that farmers can very well replicate in their own farm— another manifestation of the favourite mantra of innovators: the more brains you use, the lesser money you will need.

The paper won the third best paper award during the 61st PSAE Annual National Convention and 9th International Agricultural Engineering Conference and Exhibition in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte on April 25-29, 2011.

DA-PhilRice is a government-owned and –controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

For more information, please visit or contact DA-PhilRice at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with telephone number (044) 456-0285 loc 511/512 or any PhilRice station near you. You may also visit their website at or text your questions to 0920-911-1398. (Jaime A. Manalo IV)

Alarmed over rising crimes, Governor to convene PPOC on Monday

MALOLOS CITY—Due to increasing crime incidents in Bulacan, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado vowed to convene the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) on Monday, March 5.

This came after local residents, including businessmen expressed alarm over the rash of violent crimes in the province since the last week of January.

The crimes includes the killing of a businesswoman in Paombong town, kidnapping of a family in Meycauayan City, assassination attempt on a mayors aspirant in San Miguel town that resulted to the death of his two companions, robbery at Resureccion Panswhop in Balagtas town and at Pamana Cooperative in Malolos City.

Other crimes include killing of a lawyer in San Jose Del Monte City; a police officer in San Rafael town, and an employee at the Vice Mayor’s office of Malolos City.

Alvarado said that the Bulacan Provincial Police Office reported to him that crime incidents in the province is lower compared to the first two months of last year.

However, he said that crime solution efficiency is low.

“Maraming unresolved case, kaya magpapatawag ako ng Peace and Order Council meeting on Monday,” he said in an interview last Wednesday, March 1.

The governor also noted that while a number of crimes committed in the province remain unresolved, many were committed with boldness.

He cited that the killing of the businesswoman from Paombong, along with the killing od a lawyer in the City fo San Jose Del Monte, thre kidnapping and carjacking in Meycauayan City and the robbery at Pamana Cooperative were committed on broad day light.

“It must be stopped,” he said noting that a number of Bulakenyos approached him and expressed their fears on increasing criminality in the province.

A former lawmaker and vice governor of Bulacan, Alvarado was elected in the 2010 elections.

After his assumption to office, he vowed “to put the house in order” noting that good governance will result to peace and order then to more investments in the province that will generate jobs.

However, the Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and industry said that high crime rate in the province will not only discourage possible investors, but current businessmen from expanding their operations. 

Bulacan students to represent PHL in FLL World Festival

DYCI winning team.  The Blue Ocean 10.

BOCAUE, Bulacan—A 10-high school students robotics team here will represent the country in the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (First) Lego League Food Factor World Festival to be held in St. Louis, Missouri this April.

This came after they ruled the First Lego League (FLL) Philippines held at the Quezon City Interactive Science Center over the weekend, besting 150 other students from 15 participating schools across the country.

Dubbed as the Blue Ocean 10, the Dr. Yanga Colleges Inc., (DYCI) team is composed of Trisha Carmela Santos, Gladys Leigh  Malana, Dave Adrian Bien, Keight Dela Cruz, Lady Alein Goleng, Tim Fabillon, Ramikurt Del Prado, Jules Martin Agsaoay, Jonathan Alejandro, Michelle Alcanar.

All of them are students of the DYCI High School department which produced the 2010 World Robot Olympiad (WRO) champions, and bagged fourth place in the same competitions last year.

“It’s a surprise.  We never though our team will make it to the FLL World Championships,” said Michael Yanga, the director and principal of DYCI High School.

He said that it is an honor to win the FLL Philippines’ first competition that earned them a ticket to the FLL Food Factor World Festival that will be held at the America’s Center and Edward Jones Dome Convention Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

The Food Factor World Festival will be participated by competitors from 60 countries from April 25 to 28.

“I’m very proud of our students who have shown that we are really globally competitive and Bulakenyos are truly prime movers of technology,” Yanga said,

The DYCI Blue Ocean 10 team ruled the FLL Philippines’ championship through the students’ invention called Meat’s Anti-Germ Inspection Solution (Magis) v.2.0, a machine that could help people  from eating a contaminated meat especially pork.

Beryl Cruz, the head coach of the DYCI Blue Ocean 10 said that Magis v.2.0, which the team worked on for two months, also has the capacity to detect “botcha”. 

Cruz is also the head coach of DYCI Robotics team that ruled the WRO held at the SM Convention Center in 2010; and placed fourth in the WRO held at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last November.

Cruz explained that the FLL Philippines  is harder than the WRO competitions noting that it deals with real world problems like the “botcha” scare that hit Bulacan last year.

He said that participants in the FLL Philippines created their invention based on the “food factor,” a theme given by FIRST that is based on their core values.

The FLL Philippines was organized by Mylene Abiva of the First in Educational Learning Trends Always (FELTA) founded in 1966 by Felicito and Teresita Abiva, with the aim of providing the academe with instructional materials that answers the needs of the times.  (Dino Balabo)

PPI mourns death of veteran journalist

Isagani Yambot (right) with the Late Jose Pavia, the former  executive director of PPI, and Joey Aguilar, the editor-in-chief of Punto Central Luzon. Photo taken at during a PPI workshop at Cagayan De Oro City in October 2009.

The Philippine Press Institute is deeply saddened by the passing of veteran journalist Isagani Yambot. He was 79.

Gani, as was fondly called by his colleagues in the industry and those close to him succumbed to cardiac arrest evening of March 2. Early this week, he underwent quadruple by-pass operation was said to be recuperating.

Mr. Yambot was publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and trustee of the Philippine Press Institute. He served for two consecutive years as chairman-president of the Institute from April 2009 to June 2011.

The PPI statement reads:

The Philippine Press Institute is deeply saddened by the passing of Isagani Yambot, a true journalist and gentlemen. He will be greatly missed by the profession.