DA-PhilRice urges farmers to conserve water

DA-PhilRice urges farmers to conserve water

SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Experts from the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) have advised farmers to avoid excessive water use. 

Kristine S. Pascual, DA-PhilRice’s senior science research specialist, said Thursday based on studies, it is estimated that 15 million to 20 million hectares of irrigated rice fields in the world would experience water shortage by 2025. 

Pascual noted that 1,400 liters or seven drums of water could be conserved in the production of 1 kg. of rice if water supply in the fields is well-managed.  

“We need 4,000 liters or 20 drums of water to produce 1 kg. of rice. With proper water use, only 2,600 liters or 13 drums will be needed to produce the same amount of rice,” she said in an official social media post. 

To conserve water, farmers are encouraged to use controlled irrigation. 

“During crop growth, farmers should practice alternate wetting and drying aided by observation well if water is insufficient,” Pascual said. 

She said water scarcity is evident if the rice field has deep soil cracks for more than three days.  

Meanwhile, water is excessive if the field is submerged in 5 cm. of water for seven days or more. 

She explained that insufficient water during the vegetative stage causes leaf rolling, leaf-tip drying, and stunted growth in rice crops.  

During panicle initiation to the grain-filling stage, she said leaf rolling and leaf-tip drying, many unfilled spikelets, and reduced panicle exertion could be observed. 

Excessive water, on the other hand, causes reduced tillering (less than 10 tillers per hill), small leaf area, and dark-colored roots instead of reddish-brown or lighter. 

Pascual said farmers should discontinue some of their current practices to conserve water.  

She said unhelpful routines include rice paddies remaining open during rest period until the first irrigation time, lack of definite schedules or guidelines of irrigation, paddy-to-paddy irrigation and lack of ditches, and continuous flooding of fields throughout the cropping season. 

“If the right amount of water is used in rice fields, high yield, high grain quality, increased input efficiency, and minimal damage to the environment will be achieved,” Pascual said. (PNA) 

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