Bukidnon corn demo farm to use solar-powered irrigation: Piñol

By Allan Nawal

February 19, 2019, 10:00 am

<p>Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol inspects the reservoir for the Solar-Powered Irrigation Project in Dangcagan, Bukidnon. <em>(Photo courtesy of DA)</em></p>

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol inspects the reservoir for the Solar-Powered Irrigation Project in Dangcagan, Bukidnon. (Photo courtesy of DA)

DAVAO CITY -- The Department of Agriculture will commission a corn demonstration farm using solar-powered irrigation technology in Dangcagan town in Bukidnon, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Tuesday.

Piñol said the 10-hectare demo farm, which will be commissioned next month at the Department of Agriculture's (DA) Upland Agriculture Research Centre in Dangcagan, will also use the so-called fertigation system, an advanced farming technology where soil nutrients and fertilizers will be applied by mixing these with irrigation water in the reservoir.

The nutrients and fertilizers will then be distributed through the drip irrigation method.

The demo farm and the solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS), costing PHP3.5 million, “is part of the modernization program of the DA to increase farmers' productivity through the use of advance agricultural technology,” Piñol added.

He said the purpose of the demo farm is to showcase the benefits of modern agriculture technology to corn farmers.

“The Corn Demo Farm will use the drip irrigation technology to provide water for a 10-hectare area, which has been planted to corn the traditional way previously,” Piñol said.

The area could actually be expanded to 30 hectares with the use of additional distribution pipes, he said, quoting DA engineers supervising the construction of the project.

Piñol said the use of the drip irrigation method powered by the SPIS could increase corn production to an average of 8 metric tons per hectare from the current 4 metric tons using the traditional farming method.

Piñol said the corn demo farm using the SPIS is only the start. The DA, he said, has also planned to establish four demo farms for irrigated sugarcane fields and two farms for irrigated upland rice projects.

“Demonstration farms using the SPIS and Fertigation technology will also be established for Cacao, Coffee and Coconut, Bulb Onion and other high-value crops,” he added.

The SPIS, introduced in March 2017, is one of the DA's banner programs under President Rodrigo Duterte's food sufficiency goal and costs much lower than the traditional irrigation system.

It can also be put up in less than six months, which is why the DA was able to already put up or is currently constructing a total of 169 units since the program's launch. At least 2,000 hectares will benefit from the 169 SPIS.

Piñol said Israeli agriculture experts had backed the SPIS program, saying it could make the country a major food-producing area.

Israel is a leader in the use of SPIS and the drip irrigation method and was able to produce food from its deserts.

He said an Israeli company even offered to fund and construct SPIS projects covering 500,000 hectares of land over the next three years.

“This is under a long-term loan program to be guaranteed by both the Philippine and Israeli Governments,” he added. (PNA)