A formerly wild grassland in Brgy. Sampot, Paniqui, Tarlac has turned into a productive  eight tonner rice producer that ushers Philippines towards a rice farming with reduced labor.

The previous “talahiban” dryland employed a mechanized farming system, particularly for seeding and  harvesting.

The fact that this piece of land has been barren for a long time did not deter it from yielding satisfactorily.  The drone broadcasting has made planting fairly stable on the ground and more uniformly spread.

“Unlike the human hand which can differ in broadcasting strokes, such as when it is already tired, the machine made seed spreading more uniform in plant gaps,” said Aaron Cano, BCS new business activation manager. “It appears wind pressure from the drone also helped firmly establish the seed on the ground.”

The use of this land for rice creates a windfall profit as this has never been considered useful for rice as there is no irrigation in the area.

“We just used two pumps, so the land never received the water it needed.  It is a very marginal area in terms of water supply and land preparation, never been tilled or fertilized but we still got a good yield from the trial,” he added.

Danny Tongol of BCS’s Bayer Learning Center said Bayer’s planting protocol called “Bayer Much More Rice”  makes a big difference in yield compared to farmers’ practice.

“The eight tons yield in Paniqui could not have been achieved under usual farmers’ practice. For some farmers, if there is around 20% weed occurrence in the farm, that is considered acceptable to them. For us and our “Bayer Much More Rice” recommended package of technology, we aim to maximize yield output

and this includes effective weed control” said Tongol.

From the start, all Arize seeds have inherent resistance to Bacterial Leaf Blight, which is a common problem during the wet season.

The recommendations include sufficient fertilization, control of weeds and plant diseases using of herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, and related crop protection solutions.

The Carlos O. Cojuangco Foundation Inc. (Cocfi) has linked up Tarlac farmers with drone supplier New Hope Corp  (NHC) and the Bayer Learning Center to come up with the successful technology demonstration farm.

“We should advocate the use of these technologies so that we can at least catch up with our neighbors who are now ahead of us in farming mechanization,” said Robert Randolph Moulic of Cocfi.

While only a small 2,000 square meter land, the model farm yielded 28 cavans at 57.5 to 58 kilos per cavan.  Converted into a hectare, this is equivalent to a potential yield of 8.055 tons (8,055 kilos).

High yield is primarily attributed to the use of hybrid rice Arize 8433 DT which is resistant to Bacterial leaf blight and Brown plant hopper.

The yield stands out significantly compared to the average three tons per hectare rice yield in the country.

More important, planting of rice has been done through “direct seeding” with the use of drone technology.

Traditionally, direct seeding has been considered less productive yield-wise compared to the transplanted seeding since transplanting maximizes space or land area.

Nevertheless, through the use of drone, no space has been wasted as the machine systematizes spread of the seeds/seedlings.

Given yield potential of the mechanized rice farm, gross earnings may reach around P150,000 per hectare in one season, at P19 per kilo. Deducting about P50,000 production cost per hectare, net profit could reach a whopping P100,000 per hectare per season.

Cost already includes P3,500 for direct seeding service using drone and P850 per hectare for mechanized crop protection spraying. Both mechanized activities are supported by Bayer through the service provider.

As the same land in Brgy. Sampot will be used again this rainy season,  Tongol said the Bayer Learning Center hopes harvest next time will be higher with the added rain water.  Rain could supply what has not been provided for by the two water pumps installed last season.

The drone seeder is being received enthusiastically by Filipino farmers in Central Luzon as it substantially cuts labor and cost of direct seeding.

Typically, labor cost for transplanting rice ranges around P11,000 to P13,000 per hectare. [MELODY AGUIBA]