MECHANIZED FARMING ON THE RICE TERRACES

The Cordilleras, May 23, 2003 (STAR) Scarce labor and inappropriate farm machinery are among the major problems in sustaining the productivity of the Cordillera Rice Terraces. Thus, the need to mechanize land preparation becomes imperative.

In view of this, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Celtral Cordillera Agricultural Programme (CECAP) developed a lightweight floating type power tiller for land preparation. According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), this machine is called the "Super Curyat" tiller.

Lead researchers R.F. Orge (PhilRice) and A.A. Mendoza (CECAP) said the technology was developed through participatory ap-proach which involved farmers in designing a technically feasible machine that can be easily adopted due to its conformity with farmers’ social and cultural beliefs.

A group of farmers in Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalingan were involved in all as-pects of development — from design conceptualization, proto-type development, to field-testing. Farmers operated two units of the "Super Curyat" tiller. Additional two units were fabricated for further testing by farmers from Hungduan, Ifugao and in Barlig, Mountain Province. Refinements on the design were done based on the farmers’ feedback.

The machine weighs 65 kg. It consists of a pair of cage wheels mounted on a common hexagonal shaft and driven by a 6 hp gasoline engine through a chain and sproc-ket transmission assembly. The cage wheels are equipped with a triangular-toothed traction bar tilted at an angle of 60o opposite to the direction of rotation. The transmission assembly uses motorcycle chain and sprockets for easy repair and maintenance. The "Super Curyat" tiller can be disassembled and assembled easily. This feature eliminates difficulty in transporting the machine along steep terrain.

Initial test results showed that the machine performed well in terms of puddling the soil and burying rice straw even in fields with knee-deep hard pans and long-rice stubbles. When pilot tested in three sites within the Cordillera Region, 92 percent of the respondents (36 farmer-users of the machines) were convinced that the machine worked faster and better than their traditional practice of foot trampling. Likewise, 83 percent of the respondents liked the machine because it saved time, money, and effort.

Based on the pilot tests, it would take around 2.87 days to finish preparing a hectare using the "Super Curyat" tiller, with an average cost of operation of P1,684.33/ha. A farmer can save an average of 47.76 days or P3,123.35/ha (94 percent and 65 percent savings in time and cost, respectively) using the technology compared with the traditional method. Ofelia F. Domingo, S&T Media Service


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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