The DA is encouraging the use of at least two affordable bio-fertilizer brands that increase crop yields by as much as 20%, as part of a long-term strategy to wean farmers away from the use of costly, imported chemical inputs. These microbial-based fertilizers, with the trade-mark names Bio-Con and Bio-N, were developed by scientists at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna (UPLB).
Bio-N is a microbial-based inoculant that is available from suppliers in 49 newly established mixing plants nationwide, while Bio-Con is a commercially produced variety that is now being tested in the corn farm clusters in Mindanao, the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Palawan.
Sec. Yap said that the experts from UPLB and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) have recommended the use of Bio-N and Biocon as affordable, growth-boosting and environment-friendly alternatives to imported chemical fertilizers after these substitute fertilizers were screened for their effectiveness on a variety of agricultural crops.
"The use of organic fertilizers will not only increase yields per hectare but will, in the long haul, actually save us hundreds of millions of pesos because this will help reduce the use of expensive, imported chemical fertilizers in palay and corn farms", Yap said.
He noted that Bio-N for instance, supplies at least 50% of the nitrogen requirements of rice, corn, and vegetable crops and that five 200-gram seed packets are enough for one hectare planted to rice or corn.
Bio-N promotes shoot growth and root development in crops, increases the yield per hectare and develops the resistance of corn crops to wind and certain plant diseases. More-over, BIO-N inoculants are environmentally safe and can eliminate the risk of ground water pollution caused by the leaching of nitrate, especially in loose soils.
Biocon, on the other hand, also promotes growth, with marked increases in yield ranging from 10% to 20%, while reducing the use of chemical fertilizers by 30% to 50%. Yap noted that when Biocon was tested in rainfed rice farms in Koronadal, South Cotabato, the highest yield recorded with the use of this biofertilizer reached 6,583 kilograms compared with only 4,524 kilos without Biocon.
Double crop yields, drop in fertilizer use
In Lawak, Tayug, Pangasinan, corn yields averaged 9.2 tons per hectare, or two times higher with the use of Biocon, and registered a 45% reduction in the use of chemical fertilizers. In Dalaguete, Cebu, tomato growers using Biocon earned more from the crop to as much as P29,000.00 brought about by increased yields and a big drop in the use of costly chemical fertilizers. For each hectare planted and fertilized with Biocon, yields increased to 44.9 tons as compared with lands that did not use Biocon, which averaged only 32.8 t/ha.
Biocon, Yap said, is currently being used in selected areas covered by the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Corn Program in Mindanao, Central Luzon, the Ilocos Region and Cagayan Valley and approved for testing by Mayor Edward Hagedorn in Palawan. It is now under evaluation of the UPLB and PhilRice experts for wider use in the GMA Rice Program.
Source: Department of Agriculture