By: Marilyn Galang
SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija — The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has recommended the use of drought-tolerant varieties and technologies to help farmers cope with the ongoing El Niño phenomenon.
PhilRice agriculturist Fredierick Saludez said rice farmers must be prepared to plant drought-resistant varieties that could help them mitigate the impact of prolonged dry spell.
Based on studies, rice normally grows at temperatures between 20-35 degrees Celsius. Temperature above 35 degree Celsius is critical for rice growth especially during the reproductive stage.
Likewise, rice yield can decrease by 10 percent for each 1degree Celsius increase in minimum night temperature during the dry season.
Aside from planting drought-tolerant rice varieties, Saludez said farmers with water source can also try the aerobic rice technology which requires irrigation at 2-5 centimeter every week.
He said farmers in irrigated areas, meanwhile, are advised to use water efficiently so it can reach tail-end areas in the irrigation system.
By practicing controlled irrigation, he said water use can be reduced by around 16-35 percent without reducing yield.
“This technology is aided with an observation well used in monitoring water levels. It is time to irrigate when the water level hits 15 centimeter below ground level,” Saludez said.
While PhilRice recommends a fallow period every cropping season, in times of drought, it also encourages farmers with stable water supply to plant rice immediately after harvest.