The Early Pre-war Years
The first soil survey in the Philippines was conducted by Clarence W. Dorsey, an American soil scientist, in 1903. He classified the soils of Batangas Province. But it was not until 1921 at the Division of the Soil and Fertilizers was organized under the Bureau of Science. Its activities were confined to the studies of the chemistry of soils and fertilizers. Most of the studies were done at sugarcane areas.
In 1934, the Soil Survey Committee was organized by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce. The committee was composed of the Directors of the Bureau of Science, of Plant Industry, of Lands, of Forestry, of Mines and of Weather. The Undersecretary was the Committee Chairman.
In 1963, the Bureau of Science reorganized the Division of Soils and Fertilizers into the Division of Soil Survey staffed by 19 personnel. In 1939, the National Assembly enacted Commonwealth Act 416 mandating agronomical soil survey to the Division of Soil Survey. To accomplish this goal, the Division was reorganized and expanded to five sections.
Post War Activities
World War II interrupted the activities and the Soil Survey Division was among those abolished. It was not until after the war in 1945 that the Soil Survey Division was reorganized. Unlike the pre-war activities, however, the focus of activities during this time was conservation survey. The outputs served as the fundamental basis for laying the principles needed to undertake soil conservation work. The first soil conservation project of the Division was established at the Buenavista Estate in San Idelfonso, Bulacan.
In 1948, the Soil Survey Division was again reorganized into the Division of Soil Survey and Conservation with four sections to carry out its function.
In June 5, 1951, the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 622 organizing the Bureau of Soil Conservation consisting of five divisions. Dr. Marcos M. Alicante was named the first Director. It is this date that every year the Bureau celebrates as its founding anniversary. In 1964, the agency was renamed the Bureau of Soils. The Bureau's regional offices were created to bring the services closer to the farming communities. Since then, the Bureau has become a major planning, policy making, consultative and advisory agency of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Gloom dawned on the Bureau in September 24, 1972 when Presidential Decree No.1 reorganized the executive branch of the national government splitting the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources into two departments and merging the Bureau of Soils with the Bureau of Plant Industry. Vigorous and active representation was made, with no less than its director at that time of merging, Mr. Godofredo N. Alcasid advocating for the retention of the Bureau of Soils as a distinct agency from the Bureau of Plant Industry. He was supported by the members of the Soil Science Society of the Philippines. The gloom was replaced by joy in March, 1973 when the two merged agencies were again separated.
In June, 1987, Pres. Corazon C. Aquino reorganized the Bureau of Soils into the Bureau of Soils and Water Management through Executive Order 116. The Bureau retained its staff function of soil resources survey, evaluation, conservation, testing and research but its mandate was broadened to include the development and generation of water resources utilization and conservation technologies as well as inclusion of rainmaking projects to alleviate the impact of prolonged drought on standing crops.
Technical Cooperation with JICA
In October, 1988, the Republic of the Philippines through the Department of Agriculture entered into an agreement with the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the establishment of the Soils Research and Development Center (SRDC). The groundbreaking ceremony for the Center construction was made in 1989.
In January, 1990, the Bureau moved from Sunvesco Bldg. in Taft Ave. and Court of Appeals Bldg., in Maria Orosa St., Ermita Manila where the technical and administrative offices and the laboratories were then housed to its new home, the Soils Research and Development Center (SRDC) in Elliptical Road, Diliman, Quezon City.
In March, 1991, the new SRDC Building was inaugurated by Her Excellency, President Corazon Aquino with the Honorable Toshi Goto, the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines. SRDC's goal to become the center for soil and water based researches and technologies to sustain self-sufficiency in agricultural production was boosted with the SRDC-JICA Technical Cooperation, Phase I. This was completed in 1995.
Phase II of the technical cooperation was started in 1996. The second phase focused on three (3) areas of research:
- Soils and Fertilizers
- Soil Conservation
- Soil Productivity Capability Classification
With the completion of the Phase II of the technical cooperation in January, 2000, another project with JICA was launched in February, 2000 - The Environmental and Productivity Management of Marginal Soils in the Philippines (EPMMA).
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