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Smart phone, smart TV, smart chair.

With everything becoming “smart,” the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) collaborated with the Advanced Science Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technologys (DOST) to automate the collection and retrieval of weather data.

Through the partnership, the Philippine Real-Time Environment Data Acquisition and Interpretation for Climate-Related Tragedy Prevention and Mitigation or PREDICT project – an advanced data retrieval system for weather stations, was developed.

Dr. Jasper Tallada, PhilRice consultant and engineer, said that “with climate change threats at fore, the road to smarter alternatives is the way to go.”

“Documentation of weather or climate data is significantly important to help farmers and researchers plan their activities by looking at weather patterns. This includes temperature, wind speed and direction, soil temperature and moisture, groundwater level and temperature, solar radiation, ultraviolet index, rainfall, and other weather-related factors relevant to rice farming,” he said.

Tallada said manual data gathering requires intensive field monitoring to ensure that weather conditions are well-recorded.

“PhilRice has been collecting weather data since 1985. Retrieval of data was difficult since you have to personally go to the field and regularly record one-by-one the numerous climate parameters using various instruments. Once missed, the weather condition that has passed at a particular time is also gone. PREDICT now automates the collection of data and stores them in a computer database 24/7 in real-time, downloadable whenever needed,” he explained.

With the new data logging and retrieval system, researchers will just download the information through http://fmon.asti.dost.gov.ph/weather/predict/ or via text messaging. The request will be sent to the agromet stations that will automatically respond to the sender.

Tallada and Engr. Marc Jude Paul Ancheta manage 12 agromet field monitoring stations located in strategic PhilRice stations. The project, which started in 2013 under the Coping with Climate Change program, maintains and monitors the activities of the agromet stations that record agro-climatic data.

“The data are useful for researchers, especially for those doing crop yield projection and other process-based production modelling. Most of our field experiments heavily rely on climatic data. The new system makes it easier for us to access the specific data we need,” Tallada said.

Initial observations on climatic curves and trends from the logger imply the change in typhoon patterns shifting the concentration from Luzon to Mindanao. This information alone, Tallada said, has significant implications in rice research and agricultural production in general.

“One of our major concerns is to contribute in climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. On-time and accurate availability of data will help us achieve this vision that, in one way or another, will benefit our farmers,” Tallada said.

Tallada`s team plans to strengthen collaboration with DOST to develop an agromet station specifically calibrated for rice research. They hope to make the data available to everyone who intends to access them.

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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