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Making our Lands More Efficient for Production

By Engr. Bony P. Dela Cruz, Engr. Evangeline F. Dacumos and Engr. Mamerto F. Martinez – December 03, 2012

Most of the hilly lands in the Philippines are currently exposed to upland cultivation as primary agricultural lands are converted into other land use to accommodate the increasing population. However, it is often unproductive due to land degradation problems aggravated by poor management techniques. Unproductive uplands are also attributed to common soil-related constraints such as shallow soils and high levels of coarse fragments, acidity, low organic matter level and low nutrient, and water retention capability. With these scenarios, many areas are now left idle by upland farmers, with no hope to make these areas productive.

With the strong desire of making uplands productive and profitable, the Soil Conservation and Management Division (SCMD, led by Engr. Samuel M. Contreras, established a Soil Conservation Guided Farm (SCGF) Techno-Demo in Tanay, Rizal, in cooperation with Rizal National Soil and Water Resources Research and Development Center (RNSWRRDC) headed by its Officer-in-Charge, Dr. Gavino Isagani P. Urriza. It demonstrates and showcases the appropriate soil and water conservation (SWC) technologies for sustainable upland production and profitability. The establishment of SCGF is one of the core activities of the Soil Conservation and Management Division. It serves as a model farm in the locality to promote SWC technologies and its beneficial performance both environmentally and economically.

The project site occupies the northeastern portion of the premises of RNSWRRDC with an area of about 0.4 hectare. Originally, the area was dominantly vegetated by cogon, talahib, and other shrubs. It used to be a training ground of the Philippine Army until 2006. Since then, it remained idle until mid-2012.

The established SCGF integrates suitable soil and water conservation practices that can contribute to the sustainability of the farming system.

It includes soil improvement and slope stabilization techniques such as contour strip planting, trenching, establishment of contoured hedgerows, natural vegetative strips (NVS), brush dams and rainwater harvesting technologies, planting of leguminous crops, drought-resistant crops, and cover crops, improvement of road network, minimum tillage, recycling of organic matter and other nutrients, and balanced fertilization.

At present, about 200 trees/fruit seedlings are planted in the area such as guyabano, jackfruit, palm, coconut and narra. In addition, various vegetables and annual crops were also planted like squash, bitter gourd, pineapple, lemon grass, etc.

More interventions are needed to be implemented in the area to make it really productive in the future. For instance, there is a need to construct water reservoir and overhead tank for supplemental irrigation during dry season. It is also important to continue the improvement of road networks for easy access in the area. Construction of terraces (natural and man-made) is needed for crop production demonstration.

Before the establishment of SCGF

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During the establishment of SCGF at TNSWRRDC

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Improvement of road networks
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Construction of interceptor canals, Establishment of contours using a trencher
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Establishment of perimeter fence, Planting of pineapple as contour hedgerows, Planting of timber and fruit seedlings
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Hedgerows : (a) lemon grass, (b) pineapple, and ( c) palms; (d) squash as strip crop

After the establishment of SCGF

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