Due to the La Nina the dry season was short and too wet to plant our legume crop so we let the field fallow for the last remainding months before the rice.
This La Nina is the most survive on record since 1917/18
La Nina flooding at Bountiful Harvest 2007
To help control the Golden snail that devastated our rice last year we introduced large ducks into the field during the cultivation period. They also eat weeds and other insects aswell of tilling the soil, this is known as “Bird Tillage”
Use ducks during the cultivation of our field "Bird tillage"
The rice is now flowering and setting grain. Our rice on the SRI system looks very different from our neighbours rice, it is dark green, up right, tall and has many tillers. visitors are amazed at its heath and vigor. We now have to keep the maya birds off, they can reduce yields by 25 -30%
The grain is setting and we need to keep off the Maya bird
The SRI system produces strong and heathy rice
Tours of our farm are very popular and the reasons to visit are varied. Some are curious about tropical agriculture, others are urbanites desiring to return to the land, or farmer groups sceptical about the productivity and yields of organic farming. Last Saturday we had the Puerto Princesa Central Rotary Club visit the farm.
Farm visit by the Rotary Club Puerto Princesa Central
They also ask for a short lecture on waste management because they are keen to implement waste recycling in their household and later at community level.
The President of Bountiful Harvest waxing lyrical about compost
demonstration on the different soil conditioners applied to our vegetable beds
Traditional rice is kept flooded for weed control but this can cause some nutrient deficiency. The high yields of SRI are attributed to the periodic drying of the paddy field during the vegetative stage. This will cause a weed problem so every 14 days we go through the crop with a weeder. Also the field is flooded every 20 days to irrigate the rice
Weeding the rice with weeder machine
The rice requires nitrogen at the tillering stage and that Panicle Initiation. We spray the rice during these stages with Fish Amino Acid made from trashed fish. The fish can be substituted with snails which will feed the rice and help with snail control. With the FAA we add EM5 and Fermented Plant Extract (FPE) for pest control, this is applied as a folia spray.
We have had high losses due to snails which feast on the young seedling, we need to improve our snail control at the early stages
Spraying rice with EM5, FPE and FAA
Placing Trichocards in a rice field to control Stem borer
To control the rice stem borer we hang trichocards in the rice field. These cards are coated with the eggs of the trichogramma. When this parasitic wasp hatches it fly’s off to lay its eggs into the egg of the stem borer so destroying the stem borer egg. This is a very effective method of Biological pest control.
They are the lyrics of a Filippino folk song, the work is back-breaking in squishy mud under a sweltering sun, this is food production. We planted our rice during the last week of November.
Leveling paddy field ready for planting rice
Marking out a grid Pattern ready for planting
The field is marked out in a grid pattern so the rice will be plant in straight rows, this important to aid the use of the ‘weeder machine’ later
Micheal experiencing rice planting
Micheal spent two weeks at Bountiful Harvest to learn about Tropical Agriculture. While with us he joined in the fun of planting rice
sow and piglets on natural Farming system
Last week our soe Teeny weeny gave birth to 10 piglets. All are doing well in a “happy environment” on natural bedding and kept healthy with EM.
The only down side to their arrival is that Teeny Weeny (150kg) escaped early morning and very restless. While coaxing her back to the sty she took a bite of my leg that left me limping a few days
The odorless pigs on the deep saw dust bedding (korean Natural farming) is still a very popular corse and the pork is in great demand.
In May when the rains arrive the first rice crop is planted on about 155,000Ha but this year only 44,000ha could be planted due to inadequate rain fall. Now the rains have arrived and the farmers are busy preparing the land.
This year we are trying a method called SRI (System of Rice Intensification) which should increase yields by 50-100%. Our previous rice crops have been grown without Chemical inputs which gives us a yield of 1.5-2 tons on our 1/4 Ha which is the amount local farmers harvest on 1Ha. so there is great potential for Palawan
Farm waste Fermented with EM (PhilRice Bokashi)
We are big on soil fertility. The previous crop had been fertilized with Limestone and Bat guano, now the residue from that crop is being ploughed in along with PhilRice Bokashi to feed the rice crop.
First ploughing with the water buffalo
Puddling rice field with the Handtractor
Preparing a Dapog seed bed with variety RC18
An old friend back, found during ploughing the rice field