(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Wednesday, 19 June 2024) Southwest Monsoon affecting the western sections of Southern Luzon and Visayas. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—˜π—”π—§π—›π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. 𝗙𝗒π—₯π—˜π—–π—”π—¦π—§ π—ͺπ—œπ—‘π—— 𝗔𝗑𝗗 π—–π—’π—”π—¦π—§π—”π—Ÿ π—ͺπ—”π—§π—˜π—₯ π—–π—’π—‘π——π—œπ—§π—œπ—’π—‘: Light to moderate winds coming from Southeast to South will prevail with slight to moderate seas (0.6 to 2.1 meters).

Monday, 10 June 2024

Solon calls Agsurnons to promote soil science in agriculture

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur — Congressional Representative Adolph Edward Plaza of 2nd District Agusan del Sur emphasized the significant role of every sector in the society in the promotion of soil science in enhancing the country’s agriculture and economy.

Plaza issued this statement as the keynote speaker of the 24th Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Philippine Society of Soil Science and Technology Incorporated (PSSST) on Wednesday at the covered court of the Datu Lipus Makapandong D.O. Plaza Sports Complex in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.

“The critical issue of soil nutrition and degradation is now out in the open,” he noted as he urged participating scientists to help address this problem with extreme urgency.

“We are an agricultural nation with fertile lands and hardworking farmhands, and yet we continue to import agricultural products,” the lawmaker pointed out.

Plaza said the Philippines is the number one rice importer with 3.8 million metric tons traded in in 2023.

He said the soil health programs of the national government are no longer relevant or updated with the best soil practices of Australia, Japan, and Thailand. Hence, this needs an upgrade in the programs related to agriculture.

“We really need to have soul searching to reconsider why our soil initiatives are no longer important to our farmers,” he stressed.

In the last three years, Plaza has been engaged with the soil science community and found that effective soil health analysis needs to check on 16 chemical elements, not the usual practice of agricultural technicians from the Department of Agriculture (DA), who only find three elements—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—using a trial and error system.

Top provincial officials have been advancing efforts to enhance soil health development, integrating it as a crucial element of the province’s centerpiece Upland Sustainable Agri-forestry Development (USAD) program. This initiative aims to bolster agricultural productivity in the province.

Agusan del Sur Governor Santiago Cane Jr. said the provincial government has already conducted soil health fertilization, and it has been proven that the yield is higher while the cost of production is lower.

He referred to field trials conducted in the four towns of Agusan del Sur that have surpassed the national average for palay production.

The experiment is part of the USAD program’s soil test fertilization project.

Dr. Johnvie Goloran, a soil scientist from Griffith University in Australia who hails from Agusan del Sur shared that in the towns of Loreto and Trento, at the provincial capitol complex in Barangay Patin-ay in Prosperidad, and Bayugan City, the yield per hectare of palay (unhusked rice) increased from 3.6 tons to an average of 5.6 tons after implementing the USAD trial.

Plaza, in his presentation, mentioned that the latest results of the yields from the demonstration farms went up to six to seven tons per hectare for inbred rice and eight to nine tons per hectare for hybrid rice.

“These are amazing returns: a 30-percent increase in rice yield and a 25-percent decrease in farmers’ input cost,” he said.

The provincial government of Agusan del Sur has started building a P250 million state-of-the-art soils laboratory expected to be completed in 2025. The advanced technology of the laboratory was realized through a partnership with the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR).

Goloran also noted that the laboratory could conduct physical, chemical, and biological characterization of soils using advanced analytical capabilities. It can analyze 50-100 samples per day, with test results released within two to three days, and can handle soils, plants, water, fertilizer, and gas samples.

A sustainable soil health fertilization program by the provincial government of Agusan del Sur will help keep the province out of the “Club 20,” referring to the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines, according to visiting Australian officials.

Dr. James Quilty, ACIAR general manager, emphasized this during his visit with other Australian experts last week. They advised provincial officials to continue capacity-building efforts to improve farmers’ living conditions.

“It’s inspiring to know the province of Agusan del Sur has already graduated from the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. I think the province sets an example for the entire country to develop continuously,” Quilty said.

He added that with investments in the soil health fertilization program, the province will become more resilient and benefit from a profitable cropping system. (Chris Panganiban, PPIO-Agusan del Sur/PIA-Agusan del Sur)