La Trinidad, Philippines — “There is a need to protect the soil from erosion in order to increase farm harvest," said Dr. Gil Magsino, head of a Los Banos research team. Magsino is studying the effects of soil erosion and agricultural technology.
Using agricultural technology is one of the ways farmers can help conserve soil health and prevent its erosion, especially during storms and floods, the scientist said.
“Soil is the most important element of human existence, for it is where agriculture is based. It is a well known fact that degraded land or sloping areas are more prone to flooding and eroded soils pollute the environment”, Magsino said.
Their study “SAGIP-LUPA: Soil Conservation Technology and Weed Management” stated that the use of herbicides dramatically reduces soil reduces sol erosion through the reduction of hand weeding and tilling and that such use further safeguards the fertility of the soil itself compared to the traditional farmer’s weeding and tilling methods that breaks up and loosens the soil structure.”
The introduction of a legume crop into the rotation is a possible way of conserving soil health, the study said.
According to Magsino, the four-year report of a fiver-year study on herbicide is timely as the provincial government of Benguet promotes the rehabilitation of the upland farms adversely affected by the recent typhoons and floods.
The study focuses on the specific use of the herbicide paraquat at three litters per hectare in the demo sites.
Results showed significant soil erosion reduction in all Sagip-Lupa sites as compared to Farmer’s Practice. Sagip Lupa percent soil erosion reduction over Farmers Practice in Quezon over a period of four years was 62.59%; in Batangas, 61.42%, Benguet, 49.08%, Isabela 64.47% compared with the farmers practice.
All sites registered soil erosion below the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) threshold of 40/tons per hectare of soil over the past four-year period.
According to the study, herbicide action, which is limited to destroying the parts of the weeds above-ground but keeps its root systems intact to hold the soil together, further prevents the dissipation of nutrients from the soil itself, thereby promoting the soil’s nutrient content and fertility and, therefore, farm productivity.
Sagip-Lupa treatment in all sites contributed to reducing input costs (based on tillage practices only). Sagip-Lupa cost savings over farm practice is a whooping 65.3% for cabbage and 67.3% for potato in Benguet; 38.6% in Quezon, 20% in upland rice and 28% in corn for Batangas; 33.6% in Isabela and 44.5% in Nueva Ecija, Magsino.
The report stated “increase in yield could be attributed to accumulated OM (presence of top soil green algae during the first 45 days after planting), adding, “absorption of nutrients available in the soil surface and % nitrogen available due to % OM could be attained if soil erosion was reduced in these hilly SL sites”.-larry madarang