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Studies of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) on water-saving technology and improving unproductive soils were recognized during the 62nd Annual National Convention and 23rd Philippine Agricultural Engineering Week held in Puerto Prinsesa City, Palawan, April 23-27.

Hosted by the Philippine Society of Agricultural Engineers, the scientific gathering had noted the works of Engrs. Evangeline B. Sibayan, Noel D. Ganotisi, and Kristine C. Samoy-Pascual.

Sibayan’s Dissemination of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) water saving technology: Experiences and the role of policy support won second best paper in the soil and water, irrigation, water resources management, and aquatic engineering category.  AWD is a water saving technology that entails drying the soil intermittently before field irrigation.

In her paper, she discussed how research results led in policy formulation and implementation, which hastens the adoption of AWD in the national irrigation system.

Sibayan, also the head of PhilRice’s Physical Plant and Farm Operations Division, said the technology’s benefits had pushed the Department of Agriculture to effect Administrative Order No. 25 series of 2009, known as Guidelines for the adoption of water saving technologies in irrigated rice production in the Philippines, which mainstreamed AWD in the national level.

Sibayan also said the policy provided funding, manpower, and support mechanisms in upscaling the technology.

Results from a two-year technology demonstration revealed no significant decrease in yield despite 15-30% drop in irrigation intervals.  Improved relationship among water users within an irrigation cluster was also observed owing to water equity in the upstream and downstream areas.

Meanwhile, Carbonized Rice Hull (CRH) improves the water productivity and yield of some dry season crops landed third best paper also in the same category.

In this research, Ganotisi and his team found that sandy and heavy soils could be turned productive and planted with mungbean and garlic when applied with CRH.

Their results showed that applying 20 t of CRH in a hectare of sandy soil could optimize yield of mungbean at 615 kg/ha. Mungbean without CRH application only harvested 405 kg/ha.

On the other hand, applying 9 t of CRH in a hectare could increase the productivity of garlic planted on heavy or clay soils. Results showed that said amount of CRH could produce garlic with larger bulbs at more than 30 mm in diameter and yield a net income of P165,660. Plots without CRH produced smaller bulbs and gave a net income of only P81,612.

Another study, Adoption of alternate wetting and drying technique in irrigated rice fields: The case of Magat River Integrated Irrigation System in Isabela was adjudged best poster.

“Farmers in these areas used to irrigate every 13-16 days, but with AWD, they now irrigate every 18 days. The recorded grain yield, ranging from 5-8 t/ha, did not fall short from the reported average grain yield before AWD implementation,” Samoy-Pascual, lead researcher, said.

She also mentioned improved root system and better control of golden apple snail as potential benefits of AWD.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute