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Seeding less means harvesting and earning more

posted May 28, 2015, 7:42 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 29, 2015, 2:23 AM ]
By: Nenita V. Desamero* and Daisy D. Pablero*

Much to their surprise and delight, farmers in a municipality in Central Philippines discovered that using seeding rates half of what they used to will bring them larger harvests and higher incomes. 

Famers’ practice of using more for less

The municipality of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, Philippines is a pilot site of the IFAD-funded project “Improving Livelihoods and Overcoming Poverty in the Drought-Prone Lowlands of Southeast Asia.” (

Demo on how to determine the amount of rainfall using a rain gauge

It consists of 13 barangays covering 68,230 hectares (ha), of which 3,215 ha (4.7%) are devoted to rice. Of this rice area, 61.5% or 1,975.88 ha is rainfed and cultivated by 1,171,631 farmers. A third (32.7%) or 1,052.30 ha is irrigated and the source of livelihood for 204 farmers and the rest (5.8%) or 186.75 ha is upland. In the study site, Barangay Rio Chico, 98% of the farmers practice wet direct-seeding in both irrigated and rainfed lowland rice areas, mainly to avoid the cost of transplanting and seedling pulling and to achieve early harvest. They use very high seeding rates of from 120 to 160 kg (3-4 bags) of pre-germinated seeds per hectare. This practice, according to them, allows for losses to birds, rats, and snails to which their crops are exposed, and to ensure high yields. They prefer to plant the early maturing (106 day’s maturity) irrigated lowland rice variety PSB Rc10, which was commercially released in 1992.

Reduced seed rate a better option

The project aims to provide more suitable technologies and to demonstrate and promote the use of appropriate seeding rates for wet direct-seeding to enhance rice production and profitability in the pilot site. Participatory adaptation cum techno-demo trials of broadcasting pre-germinated seeds of PSB Rc10 at the rates of 40, 60, 80, and 120 kg/ha were conducted in the wet season of 2014 in partnership with the local government unit (LGU), particularly a team of agriculturists headed by municipal agriculturist Narcisa A. De Guzman. The trials in RCBD with three replications were established in the fields of the farmer-partners Johnny Quijano and Miguel Castro whose fields are purely rainfed, planted to rice only once a year, and on which is practiced rice-fallow cropping. Their fields served as grasslands for ruminants, mostly cows and goats, feeding on
the stubbles, straws, and weeds during the fallow period. The cultural management recommendations generated from the Rice Crop Manager were employed in the trials.

Farmers' field day at General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, Philippines

A field day was conducted on 16 October 2014 with 47 participants that consisted of 35 (74.5%) farmers, 9 (19.1%) extension workers, and 3 (6.4%) researchers. Of the participants, 64% were males and 36% females. During the field day, the participants harvested and threshed the 5 square meter crop cuts from the plots of different seeding rates and compared their harvests. The lower rates of 40-80 kg/ha yielded either higher than, or comparable with, those from the farmers’ traditional seeding rate of 120 kg/ha. Surprised and impressed, the majority of the male farmers agreed to apply low seeding rates in the following cropping season while a woman participant was willing to convince her husband to do so as well.

Less seeds for more harvest  and profit

Statistically, the computed grain yields obtained from the replicated trials across two farm sites did not vary significantly with seeding rate. The 120 kg/ha farmer’s seeding rate yielded 4.3 tons/ha while the rates of 40 and 60 kg/ha had yields of 4.1 and 4.6 t/ha, respectively. However, a partial budget analysis indicated a positive economic advantage in using 60 and 80 kg/ha seeding rates which resulted in increases in income of PhP 7,980 (USD177.30) and Php 7,740 (USD172), respectively. This increases in income resulted from 6.5% and 7.2% yield increase and 50% and 33.3% reduction in seed cost, respectively. Considering the total income attributed to yield increase and seed cost reduction, the 60 kg/ha seeding rate is recommended for wet direct seeding in the rainfed lowland for optimum gain in grain yield and income. 

More farmers to benefit from the technology

Impressed himself by the results of the demonstration trials, General Tinio Vice Mayor and Sangguniang Bayan (Town Council) Chair Hon. Reynaldo P. Tamayo expressed full support for the duplication and outscaling of the participatory techno demo in the town’s other barangays, where appropriate. He committed to provide the necessary inputs for the activity. PhilRice, on the other hand, committed to provide the technical expertise and supervision to the LGU extension workers and farmer-partners in establishing the demonstration trials. Through this outscaling, more farmers are expected to use low seeding rates, thus increasing their outputs and incomes and earning for themselves and their families better standards of living. 

*Philippine Rice Research Institute (

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