By Zac B. Sarian
Cagayan Valley could easily be called the leader in mechanizing harvesting rice in the country. It has the most number of rice harvesting machines at present, especially in Isabela. Aside from Isabela, the region consists of Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Batanes.
Today, Cagayan Valley or Region 2 is once again leading the way in adopting mechanized rice direct seeding by acquiring the latest model of the 8-row seeder from the Korea Agricultural Machinery Cooperative (KAMICO) represented by Fitcorea in the Philippines. Several such machines have been bought by the Department of Agriculture and are now being used by members of cooperatives.
The mechanized direct-seeding technology offers significant advantages to farmers. Foremost is that it can cut production costs in several ways. It uses much less seeds than when direct seeding is done manually. Farmers usually use 150 to 200 kilos of seeds per hectare when they do manual direct seeding. On the other hand, direct seeding by machine requires only 40 to 80 kilos of seeds per hectare.
Mechanized direct seeding also cuts costs on labor, and the job is finished much faster. The direct-seeding machine plants the seeds in equal distances and in straight rows. That means it is possible to mechanize weed control if herbicide is not used.
Direct-seeded rice matures about 10 days earlier than transplanted rice. This means that the crop is exposed for a shorter period to the vagaries of inclement weather like floods and typhoons as well as destructive pests.
In a one-year research a few years back, the Korean riding type seeder and the PhilRice drum seeder were evaluated at the PhilRice Central Experiment Station. It was found that the Korean direct seeder can finish seeding four hectares in one day while the PhilRice drum seeder can only seed one hectare in one day.
Results showed that Korea’s riding type seeder attained higher yields than the PhilRice drum seeder. This was due to better placement of seeds by the Korean seeder that resulted in good seedling emergence and crop growth. The placement of seeds is slightly drilled and covered with soil, and compact in one hill, unlike the PhilRice drum seeder, where the seeds are placed on the surface of the soil and slightly scattered.
For wet season direct seeding, it is recommended that the field be well prepared and leveled to achieve good emergence of the seedlings and crop growth. The seeds are soaked for 24 hours and incubated for another 24 hours. Draining of the field should be done four days before seeding.
The performance evaluation of the Korean seeder and the PhilRice drum seeder was under the auspices of DA-PhilRice in collaboration with the Korea Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA), headed by director Dr. Kim Jae Duk.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s February 2018 issue.