The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has developed an innovative technology that reduces the cost of land preparation for irrigated areas and mitigates the impacts of climate change at the same time.
The Reduced Tillage Technology (RTT) is an alternative system of land preparation for irrigated areas where plowing is not applied.
RTT is a collaborative project of PhilRice, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Regional Field Office of the Department of Agriculture in Central Luzon, and participating local government units.
Ruben Miranda, the leader of a study team that oversaw the implementation of RTT, said the technology was developed due to the pressing need to look for new ways of doing land preparation as it comprises about 19 percent of the total labor cost in rice production.
He said RTT was first piloted in 2012 in Talavera and the Science City of Muñoz, both in Nueva Ecija.
In RTT, rice stubbles, weeds, and the scattered rice straws are pressed two to three times using the hand tractor’s paddy wheels attached with riding-type leveler or by drop down-spiked tooth harrow.
The pressing is done at a five- to seven-day interval.
After the final leveling, crop establishment is done either by transplanting, by direct seeding using the drumseeder, or by manual broadcasting.
After the success of its initial implementation, 14 more towns in Pangasinan, Pampanga and Ilocos Sur were added as demonstration sites.
“Yield increase relative to using the conventional tillage method and savings generated on land preparation were the parameters used in measuring the success of the study,” Miranda said.
He said that for three consecutive seasons, the average yields of the demonstration sites were relatively higher at 5.35 tons per hectare compared to 4.92 tons/ha for conventional tillage.
In addition, farmers saved P3,380/ha per season.
“Savings can be attributed to the faster operation time and lesser fuel consumption. In RTT, farmers can save more than five hours per hectare in their farming operations. Savings on fuel is up to 50 percent or 14 liters/ha lesser than in conventional tillage,” Miranda said.
Besides the savings and ease of land preparation, RTT also mitigates impacts of climate change.
“The reduced diesel consumption and scattering of rice straws which are usually burned by farmers resulted in lesser methane and carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere,” Miranda said.