Cheaper crop establishment cost, reduced seeding rate, and more accurate seeding compared with manual broadcasting are the main features of the new multi-purpose seeder (MP seeder) for direct seeding.
During the field trials for the MP seeder last year, PhilRice engineers saw impressive results especially for farmers in the rainfed areas.
“The machine is attached to a handtractor as it is common among farmers and many of them own a handtractor. By attaching the MP seeder, use of the handtractor can be optimized,” says Eden C. Gagelonia, project lead.
Compared to manual crop establishment that requires 5-10 farm laborers to seed a hectare, Gagelonia says the MP Seeder only requires 1 laborer and could finish the task in 4 hours.
“So far the farmers [those who saw the field demonstrations] are eager to own a unit because of labor savings. While the seeder can be easily used by farmers, we will initiate to hold a training on machine operation [to ensure that everything is in order],” says Gagelonia.
Other than rice, the seeder can also be used for other crops such as mungbean and corn.
The row spacing is similar with the manual practice of farmers. During field trials, row spacing for rice was 20×20 cm and 60×60 cm for corn and mungbean. Trials were conducted in Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Ilocos Norte.
Seeding rate for rice using MP seeder can be adjusted to 30, 60, & 90 kg/ha, which is far from 150 -200 kg/ha usual seeding rate practice of farmers. For corn, seeding rate is 22-25 kg/ha but it can be reduced to 20 kg/ha similar to farmers’ practice using the manual method.
While the yield for rice, corn, and mungbean is comparable with manual seeding, use of MP promises cheaper labor cost and far reduced seed requirement per hectare.
Estimated selling price of the seeder is P25, 000, and is expected to be commercialized by end of 2018.
The MP seeder can be used for different soil types given that the depth of seeding can be adjusted.