Written by Charisma Love B Gado

 

Farming for 15 years, Erlinda Jimenez has just experienced transplanting rice for the first time. As farm manager, she helps in other farm activities but leaves transplanting to hired workers as she had difficulty keeping her balance while walking around the field.

After trying no-tillage, a technology of preparing the field without plowing and harrowing, she wore her best farm hat, got on her boots, and led her workers in transplanting rice to a half hectare unplowed field.

“I was surprised that my field could be well-prepared and be in good condition even without plowing! The mud is soft, making transplanting easier for me and the women-workers,” Jimenez, also the barangay captain of Villa Cuizon, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, said.

Saves on money and time

No-tillage, a technique being promoted and pilot-tested by Philippine Rice Research Institute and Department of Agrarian Reform, had reduced land preparation cost of farmers in two agrarian reform communities in Nueva Ecija by almost 50 percent.

“A big portion of my budget is eaten up by fuel and machine cost.  For my half hectare, I usually spend 15-20 liters of fuel and P5,000 for machine rent. This wet season, I only consumed 8 liters!” Jimenez said.

Farmers who tried the technology in Talavera reported a savings of almost P4,000 for a 6-11 hours of preparing the field. They used to spend more than P9,000/hectare in conventional land preparation, which usually takes at least 17 hours.

Reynaldo dela Cruz, another barangay official in Dimasalang Sur, Talavera, said the technology had saved him 10 days from preparing the land. Land preparation is completed within 20-30 days through conventional ways.

Dela Cruz said he was almost tempted to plow his field when stubbles still abound after first passing.  On the third passing, however, weeds were already decomposed even without using herbicides. The farmer for 25 years said flooding the field at 3 cm-level is enough to control the weeds.

Environment friendly

Engr. Isidro Villaflor, technology proponent, said more than better soil condition and savings from fuel and labor cost, no-tillage is being promoted to help mitigate climate change.

“During plowing, soil loses most of its carbon content; resulting in the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  With no-tillage, soil disturbance is less so carbon emission is also minimal. In pressing stubbles and weeds, we try to move as little soil as possible so there would be less disturbance and less carbon emission. Farmers only use handtractor leveler; the disc plow is removed,” Villaflor explained.

The ways of No-Tillage

Roy Ramos, who only spent P1,000 in land preparation this wet season, elaborated on doing the technology:
•    Irrigate the field to provide moisture for the germination of dropped rice and weed seeds;
•    Press the stubbles and weeds 5-6 days after flooding using animal or hand tractor leveler;
•    Use 3 liters of effective microorganism per hectare to hasten stubbles and weeds decomposition; and
•    Repeat pressing operation 5-6 days after the first pressing operation.

“I tried no-tillage because of the promises on saved me time and money. I also have a promise – to help save the environment. I heard that climate change is threatening agriculture, and this could be farmers’ simple way to act on it,” Ramos said as he looked at his field, already planted with rice.

Ramos said he is happy with the technology for no-tillage could help him improve his life. And as a farmer, he could make a difference and fulfil his promise for the generations to come.

(First published in the August issue of Maunlad na Agrikultura magazine)

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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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