Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Carrageenan as Fertilizer for Corn

Carrageenan has proven to be a versatile fertilizer or Plant Growth Provider (PGP). The first use for it was PGP for rice, then mungbeans and peanuts.

Now, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is conducting studies if carrageenan can also be used a PGP for corn farming.

Engineer Sancho Mabborang, DOST Region 2 director, stated that funding sourced from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Isabela provincial government and state universities and colleges in the region led by Isabela State University recently started the R&D project.

Success in using carrageenan as PGP will mean increased yield in corn farms in the region and can be replicated all over the country. This will mean a significant increase in the income of farmers.

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute had developed the carrageenan PGP through a project also funded by PCAARRD. The PNRI had used its state-of-the-art electron beam facility in Diliman, Quezon City to irradiate carrageenan and come up with the plant food supplement.

Mabborang said that corn is the second most important national food crop after rice.

He pointed out that corn, particularly yellow corn, was the main component of up to 75 percent of formulated feed for livestock, poultry, and aquaculture fishery.

White corn, the variety for human consumption, is the staple food of up to 20 percent of the Philippine population, he said.

The Cagayan Valley region is the top producer of corn in the country and is now lobbying that it be the site of the center for research and development for corn.

According to Mabborang “If we can further increase our corn production, this will mean bigger profits for our corn farmers. And an adequate, if not a surplus supply of corn in the country can have a positive impact on the country’s livestock production.”

Local Goat Breeding Gets Boost

PH Goats getting "Milked"

Goats which are classified under small ruminants will get additional technical support from the Isabela State University (ISU).

Artificial Insemination (AI) will be the method employed but will be enhanced via the research and development (R&D) to be conducted by ISU.

This effort will be endowed with funding by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), the ISU’s Cagayan Valley Small Ruminants Research Center (CVSRRC) will utilize advanced biotechnology to boost local goat breeding.

The program will have a funding of Php64 million via a grant from the PCAARRD that will draw up the protocols for embryo transfer of prolific and resilient goat breeds in ISU.

This will build upon the foundations on goat breeding earlier established by the research center that had earlier funding from the PCAARRD.

Embryo transfers are already being practiced in other countries such as Australia, US and New Zealand and that goat production can be maximized by harvesting the goat embryos and implanting them in surrogate goat mothers.

The method is faster since embryos can be easily transferred on selected does. Purchasing laboratory equipment is currently being undertaken and the set up of the laborotary will quickly follow.

In another effort, a New Zealand based scientist/embryologist is being enticed with the DOST’s Balik Scientist Program so as to further facilitate the embryo transfer R&D project.

It is not only in goat meat production but also in goat milk production where the program will have a significant effect.


First Smart Farm in the country

(Photo from DOST-PCIEERD)

The Smart Plant Production in Controlled Environments (SPICE) facility will be soon established in the DOST-ASTI Complex in Quezon City. This program is under the Nursery of Indigenous and Endemic Plants with funding of Php128.00 million.

SPICE aims to take the lead in research and development (R&D) for the standalone urban farming system that will elevate the efforts in urban farming promotion and high-tech plant conservation.

This is a result of the cooperation between the  UP Diliman Institute of Biology (IB) and Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI), and UP Los BaƱos Institute of Biology. Aside from urban farming, the program includes the establishment of protocols for micropropagation, cryopreservation, and nursery management of rare, endangered, and economically valuable native plant species.

“The core of this project is not only the development of new technology but, on a macro perspective, to ensure that we can protect our country’s rich biodiversity,” DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara said.

In line with efforts in national food security, this will harness the potential of urban farming to augment traditional agriculture in the rural areas. This employs modern farming methods such as vertical farming, micropropagation, cryptopreservation and even hydroponics. These techniques are used in conjunction with the use of lighting, irrigation and climate monitoring by utilizing sensors, electronics, and automation.

It is also intended that the facility include a “Living Laboratory” wherein the technologies employed can be observed by visitors and also fresh produce that is grown on-site can be bought in the facility’s own store.


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