Friday, November 27, 2015

Use of Seaweeds Boosts Rice Yields by up to 65%

The Philippines supplies 80% of the worldwide demand for Carrageenan and this might just be the answer in increasing rice productivity in the country. Carrageenen is a carbohydrate found in edible seaweeds was found to increase rice yields by 63.6% to 65.4% according to scientists based at the National Crop Protection Center (NCPC) at the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos (UPLB).

Field trials made in Bulacan disclosed that small portions of carrageenan added to fertilizers resulted in an increase in the weight of grains. The NCPC team led by Gil Magsino found that by adding 29 milliliters  per liter of carageenan to 3 to 6 bags of fertilizers per hectare resulted in an increase of grain weight by 450 to455 grams as compared to grain weight of  275 grams that is the result of the usual methods of Filipino farmers.

The research was funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology.

Previous studies showed that when carrageenan is degraded or reduced to tiny sizes through irradiation technology, it can promote growth in rice plants and make it resistant to certain pests. Thus, at very small doses, it becomes an effective natural fertilizer.

Higher yield, more savings

Carrageenan can improve rice productivity by strengthening rice stems which, according to the Department of Agriculture, helps prevent lodging or when stems become too weak to carry the weight of the rice grains that they fall to the field.

The substance can also promote resistance to rice plant diseases like the rice tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight.

“This innovation of applying seaweed as fertilizer empowers our farmers to have access to cheaper but highly effective plant growth enhancers that boils down to improved harvest and increased income,” said Science Secretary Mario Montejo.

Because the use of carrageenan was found to decrease the number of bags of fertilizer needed per hectare, this could mean bigger savings for farmers who devote much of their expenses to farming inputs.

The government’s finding could also impact other agricultural workers, namely seaweed farmers, by boosting demand for the substance.
Seaweed is heavily farmed in places like Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Samar, and Antique. In fact, the Philippines is a major global supplier of carrageenan. In 2011, it reportedly supplied 80% of the world's seaweed needs.

It is commonly used as a thickener or stabilizer for food products like ice cream and salad dressing, or as a binding agent for toothpaste and shampoo.

Source: Pcaarrd DOST

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The Mail Man

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