SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija — The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhiRice) has recommended the use of drought-tolerant varieties and technologies to help farmers cope with the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.
“Rice normally grows at temperatures between 20-35°C. Reports have indicated that temperatures above 35°C is critical for rice growth especially during the reproductive stage. At present, temperature may reach up to 38 to 40°C,” said Dr. Norvie Manigbas, PhilRice plant breeder.
Based on the studies, rice yield can decrease by 10 percent for each 1°C increase in minimum night temperature during the dry season.
Dr. Jasper G. Tallada, head of the PhilRice’s Climate Change Center, said drought affects all stages of rice growth.
”It does not only reduce water supply but also increases the amount of water needed for plant transpiration,” he said.
For irrigated lowland, PhilRice said farmers may consider planting several early-maturing varieties.
“Use of direct seeding technologies can also help farmers cope up with El Nino so that rice plants can escape drought or heat. Direct seeded rice matures earlier by seven to 10 days compared to transplanted culture due to stress during transplanting,” Manigbas said.
For water-saving technologies, the PhilRice recommended the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) and low-cost drip irrigation system (LDIS) technologies.
Developed by International Rice Research Institute, AWD guides farmers when to irrigate or not the rice field. Hence, this prevents wasteful use of water.
PhilRice studies show that use of AWD also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions in paddy fields.
LDIS is also used for efficient use of water and is recommended for irrigating rice-based crops.
Meanwhile, the use of fossil fuel-free technologies such as the rice hull gasifier-pump system, windmill-pump system, rice hull stove and carbonizer lessens production cost and is environment-friendly.
The rice hull gasifier-pump system uses rice hull instead of gasoline or diesel in pumping water from the ground. It is recommended for rainfed areas where fuel expenses are high.
The wind mill-pump system is applicable in areas where wind energy is abundant.
A device called rice hull carbonizer processes the rice hull into biochar (charcoal).
Aside from being used as soil conditioner, biochar is also popular as main ingredient in producing organic fertilizers thus, reducing dependence on synthetic fertilizers. PNA/northboundasia.com