Enhancing Iloilo’s rice productivity through innovations on land leveling and rice straw management

Iloilo is one of the major rice baskets in the Philippines, and mechanization could play a role in increasing the productivity of rice farming in the province. Last 7 March 7, the laser-guided land leveling system and rice straw baler were showcased to demonstrate its benefits and determine opportunities for future use.  One hundred sixty five mushroom growers, ruminant raisers, rice farmers and members of irrigators’ association, graced the event to assess the benefits that can be obtained from using these technologies to help improve farming livelihoods and accelerate the Iloilo’s rice competitiveness.

Mr. Peter Sobrevega, Regional Technical Director of the Department of Agriculture- Regional Field Office for Region 6, welcomed the participants and partners to the event and emphasized how important these technologies are in terms of improving the rice farming industry. He also mentioned that mechanized rice straw collection using rice straw balers, through the support of the RiceStrawPH project, can also help the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the National Dairy Technology to improve the livestock sector.

Joseph Sandro, an IRRI agricultural engineer, provided an overview of the WateRice project and its initiatives in promoting water-saving innovations in rice- based communities, through the use of laser- guided land leveling, to help achieve an adequately leveled rice field.  Having a well-leveled field helps farmers achieve a more uniform crop growth, creating a level surface for efficient nutrient absorption, efficient herbicide use, and increased mechanization efficiency.

According to Engr. Flerida Dimamay of the Regional Field Office of Region 6, on-farm research trials that used laser leveling, had observed less land preparation requirements and easier water management, leading to better establishment of crops. Even distribution of water and fertilizer was also visible, leading to higher yield with lower production cost. So far, the region has  already leveled more than 100 hectares, which are also used for research trials on mechanization and direct seeding.

Dr. Elmer Bautista, study leader of the RiceStrawPH project, shared that using rice straw balers in Vietnam to collect straw for growing mushrooms became easier and more timely. Rizalyn Luluy, a seed grower and mushroom grower, assessed that the baler will be useful for her, as it will ease labor in hauling and soaking the rice straw for processing for mushroom production. “We still need to pay labor for hauling rice straw for mushroom growing, so having this baler may save labor cost for me, because I won’t need to pay for it,” she said.

This eventis a joint effort of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research– funded IRRI projects WateRice and Rice StrawPH in collaboration with the PhilRice, PCC, DA-WESVIARC, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, National Irrigator’s Association, Iloilo Provincial Agriculturist Office and Iloilo Municipal Agricultural Office.

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