Mechanization raises yield, cuts labor cost

FARM mechanization can be the best possible way to solve the lack of skilled farm workers during transplanting and harvesting seasons.

In Region 2 alone, mechanization resulted in lower production cost due to savings in labor.

This was based on a report made by Engineer Generoso M. Oli, chief of the Field Operations Division of the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office-2 (DA-RFO-2) in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.

The project led by Oli is among the entries at the upcoming National Symposium on Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD) which was organized by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

The initiative promoted mechanized seeds and seedling preparation, crop establishment, and harvesting to farmers’ organizations.

These farming technologies reduced production cost and man-day labor requirement, which likewise addressed the problem of labor scarcity in the region during the peak season.

In a report presented to PCAARRD, Oli and his team introduced rice production using mechanized crop establishment machinery such as mechanical transplanter and direct seeder suitable for medium-elevated irrigated conditions in Region 2.

At least five demonstration sites were established during the wet season of 2017 in: Fugu, Ballestero, Cagayan; Baculud, Amulung, Cagayan; Nuesa, Roxas, Isabela; La Paz, Cabanatuan, Isabela; and Dadap, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.

The report indicated that results were positive, compared with the conventional manual transplanting and labor requirements in all five project sites, which was reduced by 80 to 84 percent using mechanical direct seeder, and 40 to 50 percent using mechanical transplanter.

It showed that the number of farm workers needed for crop establishment using mechanical direct seeder was lower for mechanical transplanter at 8 hours of work per day.

The project apparently attained the recommended plant population for both direct mechanical seeder and transplanter due to the precise distance of plants between rows and hills.

The report also indicated that the use of mechanical direct seeder resulted in rice yields ranging from 5.18 to 7.97 tons per hectare (t/ha), where three of the five demo sites gave yields higher than the conventional farming.

On the other hand, the use of mechanical transplanter resulted in rice yields ranging from 5.99 to 8.20 t/ha due to higher plant population, productive tillers, and filled grains.

With mechanical direct seeder, the lowest total production cost was recorded in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya at P32,880 per hectare.

Net income was reported highest in Nuesa, Roxas, Isabela at P101,025 per hectare and highest return on investment of 238 percent.

With mechanical transplanter, the lowest total production cost per hectare of P41,288 was recorded in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, also with the highest net income of P103,892 and highest return on investment of 249 percent.

During the technology demonstration and promotion, 245 individuals had been capacitated on the preparation of seeds, soil media, and seedling trays.

At least 357 farmers participated during field days on crop establishment using mechanical direct seeder, 255 during mechanical transplanting, and 276 during harvesting. ([email protected]/PN)

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