The onion seeding machine developed by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) has proven its worth with a growing number of onion farmers, among them 27-year old Jomel Nieles of Barangay Cubay in Miag-ao, Iloilo.
By using the 10-Row Onion Mechanical Seeder (ROMS), Nieles was able to save on labor costs and get healthier plants.
“I find the seeder more advantageous than the transplanting method because the seeding operation is faster at around 20 minutes for a 1,300-square meter area, and it can decrease labor cost,” he said.
Under the traditional transplanting method, onion farmers need 35 to 40 days for the seeds to sprout, which are then transplanted in the field. This method, according to PHilMech, requires a labor requirement of 100 people per hectare, who are usually paid P250 each.
This means transplanting onion seedlings costs P25,000 per cropping.
With the ROMS, Nieles said he saves a lot on labor cost because he only needs two to three
laborers to directly plant the seed using the machine. Also, the ROMs simultaneously creates the raised beds for the onion seeds.
According to PHilMech, the direct seeding could result in healthier plants because they are not subjected to “transplanting shock.”
Nieles also discovered that the direct seeding method made the onion plants less prone to diseases like fungus. Furthermore, the onions harvested using the direct seeing method are more uniform in size.
PHilMech said the ROMS it developed is attached to a one-hand tractor that are widely deployed in the countryside.