A study titled Rapid estimation of rice leaf nitrogen contents using low-cost visible-near-infrared (Vis-NIR) Spectroscopy, aims to develop and evaluate the performance of a visible-NIR spectroscopy technology to estimate the leaf nitrogen contents of some Philippine irrigated lowland rice cultivars.
Spectroscopic analysis is being used in the United States and Australia to analyze nutrients in plants.
The Vis-NIR spectroscopy, with its immediate transmittal of recommendations, could bring down the costs of analysis for more accurate and timely fertilizer development.
The technology also has potential for soil, chemical and grain quality analyses. These instruments are versatile to simultaneously analyze data in less than 1 minute.
“I was intrigued if this kind of technology could work in our country. It exists but I don’t think we are taking advantage of its full capacity,” said Jasper G. Tallada, lead researcher.
There are existing tools in the country to guide farmers with application rates of fertilizers and minimize environmental pollution such as the Soil Test Kit and Leaf Color Chart.
“There are limitations in using these tools. The more technical approach is to determine the nutrient status from tissue analysis of the plants at different growth stages to quantify the nutrient demand and correspondingly apply the needed fertilizers,” Tallada said.
One main hesitation for the use of NIR spectroscopy is the high initial costs in acquiring the instrument due to the high manufacturing costs, significant tariff, and custom duties.
Currently, commercial NIR instruments in the Philippines cost about P4 to 5 million.
Tallada and co-researcher Maricel A. Ramos suggest that the instrument can be developed locally. The LR1-based instrument system can be produced somewhere between P 100,000 to 150,000.