Written by the Web Team
Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija – Rice farmers in this town reported that eels have been burrowing in their fields resulting in irrigation water seepage and affecting nutrient and weed management.
Farmer Adriano Comilang Sr. said eels are becoming pests as they bore near dikes letting the water seep in through these holes, which are connected to the holes in adjacent field.
The rice paddy eel, identified as Monopterus albus, burrows as deep as 1.5 m during the dry season to survive dry conditions. However, reports of eel damage have been received from Isabela and Negros this wet season.
The eel, locally known as igat, palos, or kiwit, is a nocturnal fish that feeds on fishes, crustaceans, and other invertebrates and can be found in rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes, swamps, and drains.
Comilang lamented that for two years, irrigating his field had been less effective as the water collected in his field spills over to the neighboring farm.
“With the holes made by eels, my field gets drained, while my adjacent farm is filled with water,” he said.
PhilRice researchers said fields should not be drained nor flooded as water is critical in nutrient uptake of plants and weed control. Right amount of water supply ensures good crop establishment, seedling vigor, normal crop growth, development, and yield.
As management strategies, Comilang uses electric traps, covers holes, or destroys dikes.
Gregorio Gaspuz, another farmer, rebuilds dikes in another area or pours molluscides into holes to force the eels out. He also tried continuous irrigation to prevent his field from drying.
However, the two farmers said the practices are tedious as eels burrow and reproduce so fast.
To produce long-term solutions, Leonardo V. Marquez and Fe A. dela Peña, PhilRice crop specialists, plan to conduct a study on the management of rice paddy eels.