Filipino farmers to benefit from drones as Bayer pushes AI farm technologies

Calamba City, February 26, 2020 – Filipino farmers will soon have access to drones that intelligently map farms or collect crop growth information via remote sensing as Bayer partners with XAG of China on AI (artificial intelligence) farm technologies.

   The use of drones will tremendously raise efficiency in small Filipino farmers’ production. 

   A strategic partnership on digital farming technology in the Philippines and Southeast Asia was forged under a Memorandum of Understanding between Bayer and XAG which claims to be world’s largest drone supplier.

   XAG’s drones, specifically the granule spreading system, is used in seeding, fertilization, and plant protection in an arial way accurately through AI techniques.

Drones intelligently used in seeding, fertilization, and plant protection

   Bayer was represented by Andre Kraide, the company’s head for its CropScience division in Southeast Asia and Pakistan. XAG was represented by its Co-founder, Justin Gong.

   The technology will enable farmers to overcome farming challenges including labor shortage, water availability, product stewardship and safe use, and most importantly, allowing them to grow more with less.

   “It is estimated that around 500 million smallholder farmers produce 80 percent of the

food consumed in the developing world,” said Kraide.

   “We know that we need to double food production to feed 10 billion people by 2050.  But we also know that we will not get more land or resources to do so. This is where digital farming comes into the picture.”

   “As the leader in agriculture, Bayer is committed to enabling smallholder farmers access

to digital technology and solutions. We look forward to working closely with XAG, our

channel and value chain partners, as well as the governments and other key stakeholders

in the countries to leapfrog the smart agricultural movement in Southeast Asia and

Pakistan from farm to table,” he added.

   The partnership involves distribution of XAG products through Bayer’s channels.  It will jointly promote and develop markets through partnerships with local distributors.

   “XAG has grown from a drone manufacturer based in Guangzhou, China, to the world’s

leading agriculture technology company with a 20 million-hectare crop protection service

record. Our product portfolio includes survey and spray drones, agricultural utility

vehicles, and IoT (Internet of Things) equipment such as weather stations and farm cameras,” said Justin Gong, co-founder of XAG.

Filipino farmers’ key to food security

   The Philippines has been striving towards self-sufficiency in rice and corn through the

Department of Agriculture and part of the government’s focus has been on agriculture

modernization and mechanization.

   “At a glance, we are seeing scarcity of labor and improper application of crop protection products as concerns that can be solved right away by using drones,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, country commercial lead for Bayer CropScience in the Philippines.

   “Farmers would be able to optimize their usage of farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizers since this technology promotes precision agriculture, hence would

lead to reduced production costs while improving yield output and income,” claimed Lao. Rex Bryan P. Rivera

Hybrid corn of agriculture leader Bayer Crop Science posts record-high 14.85 MT yield, more Filipino farmers anticipated to grow corn

Hybrid corn of agriculture leader Bayer Crop Science posts record-high 14.85 MT yield, more Filipino farmers anticipated to grow corn

February 5, 2020

Two corn Dekalb corn hybrids of agriculture leader Bayer Crop Science have come out as topnotchers in a government-led corn competition in in three Mindanao sites, posting a record high for the region with a computed yield of 14.85 metric tons (MT) per hectare.

   A four-month planting program co-hosted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and municipal agricultural offices in Compostela Valley, Davao City, and Sarangani have exhibited the highest potential yield of the hybrids, given optimum growing conditions and proper crop management.

   In Compostela Valley, Dekalb 8719S came out a first place with 14.85 MT per hectare. Its yield was 14.12 MT in Davao City, also the highest yield in the province.

   In Davao City, the second place was garnered by another Bayer corn hybrid, Dekalb 8899S with 13.38 MT per hectare.

New Dekalb 8719S int he field ready for harvest

   Samuel B. Ontic, DA Malungon municipal corn coordinator, said the government anticipates more farmers will be encouraged to plant corn as the new corn varieties offer bigger profitability potential for corn planting.

   “That is really our objective in putting up these technology-demo sites—to show farmers the best hybrid corn varieties suitable in their areas,” said Ontic. “Varieties perform best depending on the location and this activity demonstrates which corn hybrids are most ideal for their farm.”

   The computed yield from Bayer’s products are highly significant in the Philippines where the average corn yield is only at 3.1 MT per hectare based on Philippine Statistics Authority records.     

   The corn derby in DA Malungon was conducted in MTDC – Integrated Communal and Research Garden, Sitio Basak, Malandag, Malungon, Sarangani Province during the September 2019 to January 2020 cropping season.

   As part of the competition protocol, two different types of fertilizers were applied to all the competing hybrid corn varieties. This way, farmers would have the opportunity to determine which fertilizer and fertilization level to use for optimum plant growth.

   “We recognize the importance of having a sustainable corn industry in Mindanao to meet

demand and we’re excited to have new corn hybrid varieties in the pipeline that farmers here may consider in the coming season,” claimed Erwin Vibal, head of marketing for Bayer Crop Science. “The corn derby results show an achievable scenario on the potential yield and income that Mindanao farmers can get with the right inputs and sound crop management practices.”

Farmers’ Perspective

   Edwin Ligahon, a corn farmer in South Cotabato, said Dekalb 8899S is indeed a “super” variety among all corn hybrids. “A few hybrid corn varieties can get double ears per plant, but for 8899S, most of the plants have two ears that can be harvested with both being heavy,” said Ligahon.

   From the two hectares that he planted with Dekalb 8899S, he reaped 312 cavans. Shelling recovery is high which he estimates to be more than 80 percent. With his highly satisfactory harvest, he plans to expand planting of 8899S to five hectares by the next planting season.     

   It even helps that Ligahon is a resourceful farmer as he runs his own feed processing business. With the value chain in place, his costs for producing feeds are reduced since he grows his own raw materials.

   Mar Nacional, a farmer who tilled Dekalb 8899S, claimed that applying fertilizers at the right time is essential for good harvest. He added that proper cultivation of the soil aids moisture and nutrient retention which are vital for the crop.

   “First and foremost, it’s the right choice of hybrid corn variety that makes the difference if you want to reach the optimum yield potential,” said Nacional.

   Adaptability Across Mindanao

   Ontic claimed that the biggest advantage of the new corn varieties from Bayer is their adaptability in both uplands and lowlands of Mindanao region.    

   “Some corn varieties that have tall plants cannot be grown in hilly or sloping areas, only on flat land. These new hybrids may be grown even on uplands because of their short height,” he said. “Shorter plants with strong stalks are more resistant to lodging, thus surviving strong winds or even some typhoons that destroy plants just before harvest.”

   Bayer’s hybrid corn Dekalb 8899S, launched in late 2019, was bred to have a stable yield performance under drought conditions. Across high and low elevation corn areas in Mindanao, it has shown consistently high shelling recovery at 82%. It also has good resistance against Diplodia ear rot, Phaeosphaeria Leaf Spot (PLS) and other foliar diseases which are critical for the high disease pressure areas in Mindanao. Maturity ranges from 105 to 120 days, depending on the elevation level and season.

Mindanao corn farmers showing off ears of Dekalb 8719S and 8899S in farm activity

   Another Bayer hybrid corn variety, Dekalb 8719S, will be launched this coming season. It boasts of good resistance against Gibberella ear rot, more known by farmers as ‘lipstick’ because of the purpling of the corn ear near the top during the later stage of the crop.

   Having bold orange kernels adds to its attractiveness and potential for grains to be sold at a premium. The plant of 8719S has a stay green quality which can last until harvest period so it is able to absorb more nutrients for better ear development. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Ears of 8899S during a harvest festival in Mindanao