Sunday, March 3, 2024

Gov?t employs ?smarter agriculture? to fight climate change

To combat the negative effects of climate change in the fields of agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources, the government is now tapping modern tools and techniques collectively known as ?smarter agriculture?.

An automatic weather station installed and used by SARAI (Photo from UPLB)
An automatic weather station installed and used by SARAI (Photo from UPLB)

The programs are being implemented mainly by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), an attached unit of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

One of these initiatives is the ?Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (SARAI)? program, led by the University of the Philippines Los Ba?os (UPLB).

Its main objective is to provide a decision support system — through crop advisories, forecasts, management, and the like — in dealing with climate change effect in the agricultural sector using advances in science and technology. The program will help farmers and decision-makers come up with sound and science-based judgments under certain situations.

Another project is the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPId Tech), a mobile application that can identify agricultural pests in the field using image scanning. After identification, a pest advisory and management will be recommended to the user.

Another technology being developed is the Cost-efficient Soil Moisture Monitoring System for Soil Water Deficit. Arduino-based moisture meters and gypsum blocks were fabricated using locally available materials for measuring and monitoring soil moisture in the different experimental sites throughout the country.

Water Management Decision Support System (WAISS) is a model developed for estimating soil moisture deficit in annual crops like rice and corn that can provide an early warning for crop water stress.

On the other hand, SARAI Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System or SEAMS is a system that can monitor on near-real time basis, the actual area planted to a crop and its condition based on free and daily updated satellite images available.

Lastly, Maize Nutrient Expert is a system that provides a comprehensive farm analysis ? from specific NPK applications to a comparison of the profit of farmers? practice and the recommended practice ? to determine proper site-specific fertilization level in any corn farm in the country.

Crop suitability maps for rice, corn, banana, coconut, coffee, and cacao were also produced by the program. These maps that serve as decision support tools at a scale usable by farmers and local government units show three categories of crop production suitability ? high, moderate, and marginal.

To aid in the statistical modeling for the crop forecasts and advisories, the program uses automatic weather stations and unmanned aerial vehicle to provide real-time weather data.


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