By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
VALENCIA, Bukidnon (SDN) –IN the past, farmers and other crop producers had little to no choice but to use commercially-available fertilizers.
That’s saying, chemical fertilizers.
Maybe not all of them. But it is no longer debatable the adverse effect of chemical fertilizers.
While these products increase crop yield, the harm they may cause include pollution on waterways, chemical burn to crops, increased air pollution, acidification of the soil, and depletion of the soil’s minerals (Hunker.com).
That’s without saying they may also cause harm to humans.
It’s a little different story today, thanks to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through some of its 18 attached agencies.
Now, there are what science calls “biofertilizers” through research projects funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD).
Dr. Marita Acompanado Carlos, director of PCAARRD Applied Communications Division, told SDN — Science and Digital News that PCAARRD will continue its intervention on technology generation through its Grants-in-Aid (GIA) funds.
She said in 2018, PCAARRD had nearly Php1 billion of GIA, and some Php900 million for 2019. She added that 90 percent of the funds are for research and 10 percent for trainings and seminars,
Carlos emphasized that PCAARRD has adopted what she called “targeted, directed, and focused” research projects in line with the new policy under DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena, who implemented the new policy so that every research project is geared towards “a certain commodity or sector.”
Without her verbalizing it, it was like saying that, as for DOST, gone were the days when research studies were like shooting for the moon, never mind it the output is useful or not.
“So, research (today) is industry-driven. We have to look at the needs of the industry and see if it can be addressed by research,” said Carlos.
As if to prove this, PCAARRD-funded research outputs took center stage at the 4th Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda or FIESTA.
FIESTA is a PCAARRD aimed at transferring technologies for commercial use.
The latest edition came alongside the DOST X Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) in this Northern Mindanao city on Nov. 11-13, the department’s vehicle for bringing to countryside communities the gains and offerings of science such as, but not limited to, new technologies and innovations designed to improve the lives of Filipinos. They are technologies resulting from DOST agencies’ research studies, or those that it funded.
At the FIESTA on Biofertilizers and Biopesticides, researchers, or the technology generators of PCAARRD-funded research projects pitched their technologies for transfer and commercialization.
The technology generators’ products pitched at the FIESTA included Nutrio Biofertilizer and MykoPlus, which the National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB-BIOTECH) developed, and KD Foliar Fertilizer from the Southern Philippines Agri-Business and Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST). PCAARRD funded them all.
“Biofertilizers are derived from living microorganisms that contribute to plant nutrition,” PCAARRD pointed out.
Dr. Jocelyn T. Zarate of UPLB-BIOTECH developed MykoPlus, a microbial inoculant designed to help plants absorbed more nutrients through its roots.
“MykoPlus provide nitrogen from air, makes phosphorous, improves stem elongation on plants, and increase water absorption,” she said, quoted by PCAARRD.
Her biofertilizer can be used as coat on seeds, soaked in rice seeds, coat on planting materials, such as can and tubers, and can be used also for soil treatment.
Dr. Virginia Padilla developed Nutrio Biofertilizer, which she presented at the FIESTA and described its benefit to sugarcane.
Nutrio Biofertilizer is a foliar spray promoting sugarcane’s growth, an environmentally-friendly plant supplement. Aside from sugarcane, it also improves other food crops, such as eggplants and promises a 10 to 15 percent potential yield increase.
KD Foliar Fertilizer
This is another biofertilizer which Ms. Graciela Caballero developed. She came up with the idea of using organic wastes such as seaweeds’ (Kappaphycus alvarezii) drippings to develop an organic fertilizer.
“KD Foliar Fertilizer is a bio-stimulant that carries growth-promoting hormones that can help absorb nutrients from the soil and is effective in increasing yield of crops like corn, soybean, mungbean, sweet pepper, cauliflower, mango, pechay, orchid, and rice,” said PCAARRD.
The biofertilizers were developed by PCAARRD’s partner state universities as “safe to use, affordable, and sustainable.”
Even as debates on the use of chemical fertilizers remain widespread, Filipino farmers now have a choice for organic fertilizers. (SDN)