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Smarter technologies promise a greener future for agriculture

Thea Mariel Valdeavilla, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services

As the global demand for food surges, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) commits itself to cultivate innovation, knowledge, and sustainable practices in creating solutions for agriculture to prepare the fields for a low carbon, resource efficient, and socially inclusive Philippines.

Participants and speakers during the technoforum. (Image credit: ACD, DOST-PCAARRD)

In line with this commitment, the Western Visayas Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC) in partnership with DOST-PCAARRD’s Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (ARMRD) conducted a technoforum on “Agricultural Resources Management Towards a Sustainable Green Economy,” last November 24, 2023 at the Iloilo Convention Center. This was during the National Science, Innovation, and Technology Week (NSTW) 2023 celebration.

The technoforum showcased technologies funded and monitored by DOST-PCAARRD with their proponents from different universities across the country. It was attended by students, farmers, and potential industry partners. The activity was opened by Ms. Maria Teresa L. De Guzman, ARMRD’s Officer-in-Charge. She welcomed participants and recognized the project leaders who have invested their time and efforts into researching and creating revolutionary innovations for the benefit of farmers and industry partners.

From biofertilizers to irrigation systems, insect farming technology, post-harvest, and drying technology, the discussions have fused the expertise and shared knowledge of scientists from different fields to introduce cutting-edge solutions to the public.

Reduce Cost on Inorganic Fertilizer with Nutrio© Foliar Spray Biofertilizer

Dr. Virginia M. Padilla during her presentation (Image credit: ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

“One of the solutions to the common problems in Sugarcane and Rice production is the adoption of technologies for better farm management,” said Dr. Virginia M. Padilla, Nutrio© Foliar Spray Biofertilizer technology generator, during her presentation.

As the soil of our agricultural lands degrade and turn acidic due to excessive use of inorganic fertilizer, Dr. Virginia M. Padilla created a supplement to reduce its use by up to 50% while increasing the yield and crop quality. Dr. Padilla was a former researcher of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB-BIOTECH) and now co-owner of the Fullmight Agricultural Corporation (FAC). FAC is the company that produces and sells the patented and registered Nutrio© biofertilizer.

Dr. Padilla said that the application of Nutrio© biofertilizer in sugarcane, rice, and vegetables has been proven to lessen costs and increase crop quality through field trials and actual use in small and medium farms. Since it contains effective and friendly nitrogen-fixing microorganisms that lead to growth hormones for plants, Dr. Padilla hopes that its use will continue to increase the average Filipino farmer’s income.

Save on Livestock Feeds and Reduce Garden Waste with UP Cebu’s Black Soldier Fly Farming Technology

Dr. Fleurdeliz Maglangit during her presentation (Image credit: ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Dr. Fleurdeliz Maglangit of the University of the Philippines Cebu (UP Cebu) presented her research on Black Soldier Flies and their budding potential as a multi-purpose agricultural raw material for animal nutrition and plant breeding. She and her team have produced several products derived from Black Soldier Flies such as PteraFrass, PteraFeeds, PteraChitin, and PteraChitosan.

She emphasized that the Black Soldier Fly can provide a product at every stage of its life cycle. However, the flies are most valuable at their larval stage for waste processing and animal nutrition where it has the most protein and could consume twice its body mass daily on average.

Studies show that the supplementation of BSF Larvae by up to 20% to quail diets enhanced the egg production rate by 23% compared to control. Dr. Maglangit also said that the gut microflora of the BSF Larvae possesses a potent immune system that can produce bioactive molecules, which based on their tests, has successfully inhibited the growth of E.coli and Bacillus Subtilis pathogens.

Insect-derived protein sources like Black Soldier Fly Farming can offer sustainable and cheaper alternatives to help our farmers combat high feed prices. Dr. Maglangit’s presentation holds a promise of alternative feed sources that could lower our animal feed prices, especially now, where the country’s feed prices have increased by 20-30% percent for the past two years.

Cheaper Energy Costs for Agricultural Products Processing with ISATU’s Hybrid Dehydrator

Dr. Renerio S. Mucas during his presentation. (Image credit: ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Dr. Renerio S. Mucas of Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISAT U) introduced the product of his research, the Hybrid Dehydrator Machine, which combines the use of solar energy and electrical energy. Compared with the traditional method of drying, the use of their machine can guarantee processed agricultural products even during La Niña or heavy rains, where farmers and processors have difficulty in preserving products due to the high humidity and lack of sunlight to dry their products.

The developers of this dehydrator have guaranteed an ease of use to its end-user by including programmable settings based on the products to be processed. It can be used for dehydrating raw materials for herbal tea, spice processing, condiment production, nut and seed dehydration, and some local fish product processing.

Depending on the product to be dried, it can attain temperatures ranging from 50 to 70 degrees Celsius while effectively regulating air humidity. Dr. Mucas said that this is even without access to commercial electric power. He added that the use of hybrid dehydrator machine could lead to cost savings and increased incomes to agricultural food processors.

Irrigation Made Easy for Filipino Farmers with CLSU’s AFIS and UPLB’s SARAI-WAISS

Dr. Marvin M. Cinense of Central Luzon State University (CLSU) and Dr. Roger S. Luyun, Jr. of UPLB also presented irrigation technologies during the technoforum.

“The technology’s premise is you don’t have to be at the field all the time,” said Dr. Luyun.

Dr. Roger S. Luyun, Jr during his presentation. (Image credit: ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Dr. Luyun has developed the Water Advisory for Irrigation Scheduling System or WAISS, under the Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry (Project SARAi). During his presentation, he has emphasized on how the technology he has developed could help Filipinos irrigate smarter with just one mobile phone text.

WAISS aims to instill in farmers the practice of smart irrigation management, that is, applying the right amount of water, at the right place, at the right time.

Dr. Marvin M. Cinense during his presentation. (Image credit: ARMRD, DOST-PCAARRD)

Meanwhile, Dr. Cinense is pilot-testing the Automated Furrow Irrigation System (AFIS) specifically for the Sugarcane industry.

The AFIS technology incorporates irrigation flow models, irrigation management strategies, multi-sensors and control systems. It is being integrated into a mobile and desktop application wherein the user could fully-irrigate their farms with just one click basing on the data they receive. Since the technology involves real time irrigation, it can determine when to irrigate and how much water to apply which makes irrigation easier and convenient for our farmers.

As our country faces the threat of El Nino or prolonged dry spells that will affect our agricultural production, DOST-PCAARRD-ARMRD has considered irrigation technologies as priority technologies for a better green economy.

A Smarter and Greener Economy Promised by DOST-PCAARRD Technologies

The Vice President for Research, Extension, and Training of West Visayas State University (WVSU), Dr. Greta G. Gabinete, capped off the event by encouraging the participants to utilize the outputs and products of our local research. She expressed hopes of seeing these technologies at the hands of their end-users.

Through this event, the DOST-PCAARRD-ARMRD and WESVAARRDEC are hopeful in the premise of a greener and more resilient tomorrow as the innovations presented are set to embrace adoption and commercialization in the future. The collaborative synergy across biofertilizers, irrigation, insect farming for waste management, and post-harvest drying technologies present during the technoforum marks the potential attainment of a sustainable green economy through a smarter agricultural resources management.#

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