Thursday, October 07, 2010

Regenerative Farming Through Foliar Organic Fertilizer


Picture shows the author, Mr. Ernesto T. Solidum with Mr. Edwin P. Jimenez, farmer entrepreneur showing a rice field in Mabilo, New Washington. Note the healthy stand and fully filled grains as a result of using Masinag foliar organic fertilizer. Adjacent field owned by Mrs. Erlina J. Alingig is heavily infested by Brown Planthoppers (BPH) despite calendar spraying of pesticides.

In 1995 my closed friend, Artaban Abad of Upi, Maguindanao showed me odd looking samples of home made bio fertilizer in muslin covered glass jars. Those were fermented fruit rejects of pineapple, bananas, lanzones. In a matter of 3 – 4 days, that concoction could be sprayed directly as bio fertilizer and insecticide.

It was quite unorthodox but he convinced me that his backyard piggery of two breeding sows and two gilts emitted no foul odor. Flies were few in number. Even his small broiler chicken house smelled none despite accumulated litter droppings.

Abad’s residential house and backyard project were in the Poblacion and bounded by Christians and Tidurays. Yet, occasional complaints are limited to the noise of his farm animals. Nothing serious about it. All his neighbors were meat lovers.

He later confided that this was the result of his 10 day hands on training at the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Tacorong, Sultan Kudarat. The Center provides technical skills on organic farming system that avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and growth regulators. They rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, mechanical cultivators and mineral–bearing rock.
What a big blow to conventional agriculture that depends on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to achieve high yield per hectare: Research findings indicate that as farmers rely on them to increase yield, their high acquisition cost actually lower their net income. As world price of crude oil increases so is the cost of chemical inputs as experienced in the country in 2008 when price of Urea went up to P1,600 per bag.
According to Mr. Sharma of Jodhpur, India, organic farming is a recent approach that aims to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. BPH population were low in plots treated with organic amendments along with synthetic fertilizers.
Surprisingly, Abad’s training under an NGO program was technically advanced than the govern-ment – run institutions provide particularly the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).
Today, the process of extracting enzymes from plants and animal origin through fermentation are being refined to meet domestic demands in agriculture and aquaculture industry. Concerted efforts are laid down in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to limit global greenhouse emissions. Full scale use of organic fertilizers according to Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial in the US, is a regenerative agricultural practice that can effectively sequester carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the soil. Beneficial bacteria called mycorrhizal fungi slows down decay of organic matter and secretes a potent glue like substance called glomalin that stimulates increased soil aggregation. On a global scale, agricultural land use contributes 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Such is a product now produced and marketed as Masinag/foliar organic fertilizer. Launched in Aklan barely five months ago, it has captured early adoptors: agri businessmen Edwin P. Jimenez and Engr. Blas Salvador all of New Washington.
Both men are very passionate about the product and early findings show marked improvement in tillering and growth capacity of Rc. 158. Demo farm of Jimenez (.2 ha.) is near Global Business Power Plant in Mabilo, New Washington while Salvador (1.0 ha.) is near KIA Control Tower, Pook, Kalibo. Both farms are irrigated.
As of Sept. 29, 2010, Jimenez’ farm is in the hard dough stage or one week from harvesting. One can easily observe fully filled grains, healthy and erect stand of rice plants and insignificant pest/disease damage. Estimated yield is more than 100 cavans per hectare.
However, in the adjacent field owned by Erlina J. Alingig, also planted to Re 158 but a week earlier suffers from heavy infestation of BPH. The farm is totally dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Hopper burns result when more than 5 BPH per hill are sucking at the base of rice plants. When broad spectrum insecticides like parapest and brodan are used, natural predators are also eliminated. Recommended ones are cypermethrins and carbo-mate insecticides. They must be used sparingly depending on economic threshold level assessment.
Adoption of Masinag foliar organic fertilizer can easily fit into the budget of an average rice farmer. It recommends 1 bag (14-14-14) and minimum of 5 bags compost per hectare applied during final harrowing. Top dressing of 1 bag Urea is done 35-40 days after transplanting (DAT) depending upon the variety. Dosage is 1 liter Masinag per 100 gallons of water. Timing of foliar spray is 4, 8, 12 and 18 DAT.
Seedlings are pulled 12 DAT and transplanted approximately 15 X 15 cms at 1-2 seedlings per hill. Here, closer spacing and accurate water management prevent significant weed growth. When weeds emerge, the farmer conducts spot hand weeding. It is best not to apply herbicides.
The product contains 1 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorous, 2 percent potassium, plus micro-nutrients and registered as FPA No. 1-1 LP 2767. Active ingredient is T-enzyme which has also potent insecticide, bac-tericide and fungicide inhibition properties. Satisfied customers have been recorded in Iloilo, Negros Occ., Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija based on demo farm results. The product is also effective for corn, vegetables, fruit trees, and aquaculture. More demo farms and farmer meetings are scheduled by the company in the second cropping season. /MP

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