Virtual rice & corn field tours ushers in Ph agriculture digitalization accelerated by COVID 19 crisis

July 15, 2020

An innovative nationwide simultaneous virtual field tour was introduced by Bayer Crop Science (BCS) to current and emerging farm entrepreneurs as part of the digitalization trend in agriculture long advocated by agri stakeholders and now accelerated by the COVID19 crisis.

Featured in the Facebook page of BCS and called Online Kapehan, the field tour brought farmers on a journey to different locations across the country from their smart phones and computers—spanning from Isabela all the way to Zamboanga del Sur. The sites included Alicia & Angadanan, Isabela; Talavera, Nueva Ecija; Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; Trento, Agusan del Sur, and Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur.

On its first wide-reaching virtual field event, Bayer featured its newly developed pre-emergent herbicide Council Complete, a revolutionary herbicide that has shown in trials to be highly effective in weed control while being safe to rice, applied during the early stages of the crop.

The digitalization of agriculture has been envisioned by experts in the belief that it will be the key to scaling production in order to meet the increasing demand for food for the projected more than 9 billion population by 2050.

Virtual field tour in Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur (lower left) and Alicia, Isabela (lower right) brings farmers to rice fields that test new herbicide Council Complete

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates food production should increase by 70% in order to ensure food security particularly for the growing Asian population. This propels the need for novel crop protection and rice production techniques.

Farmer-cooperators in the field trials affirmed the efficacy of the new herbicide in controlling highly-pestering weeds including the known resistant ones, consequently averting loss for farmers and ensuring good harvest. Emman Serame in Nueva Ecija said Council Complete enabled growth of rice plants without having to compete in nutrients with weeds and made the rice fields “completely clean.”

Council Complete is recommended to be used on rice plants 2 to 4 days after transplanting or at 0 to 1 leaf stage of the plant. It should be used with the fields irrigated with water at 3 to 5 centimetre level in order to best control weeds. Even when flooding occurs, farmers should not worry that the herbicide’s effectivity may lessen for as long water level does not overflow the paddy field.

“Council Complete gives the rice plant the headstart it needs to grow without competition in nutrition with space or with weeds and other plants,” said Allan Velilla, BCS head of its Southeast Asia Agronomic Technological Center in Calauan, Laguna. “It has gone through long-term studies and its ingredients have been selected from the best compounds. With a new mode of action and better efficacy, the product is safe for rice plants and effective in selecting only targeted weeds.”

It is even suitable for farmers now to use it as they do not need to go back to the fields repeatedly to spray amid present government prohibitions for unnecessary outdoor stay due to the COVID19 pandemic. Farmers only spray once, and they should no longer worry that weeds will infest their fields. As a broad-spectrum herbicide, it prevents the growth of many grasses–Palay Palay, Tres Cantos, Balbas Kalabaw, Ulang, Kahoy Kahoy, according to a farmer in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.

In Andanganan, Isabela, farmer Danny Taguba said, “It killed all the pest grasses—Walis Walis, Tres Cantos, Malapalay.” The herbicide has also been known to kill other weeds – Lopo Lopo and Lato Lato in Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur. Taguba said an advantage with the new herbicide is it may be used together with snail control spray Bayluscide.

 “You save on labor because you only have to spray once. Council Complete and the snail control product may be mixed and sprayed together,” he said.

Ruben dela Cruz, farmer in Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur, said he found the herbicide excellent as weed control. “I am impressed with the performance of Council Complete. Some leaves of rice plants in usual farmers’ practice become droopy when sprayed with other herbicides. But Council Complete doesn’t have a bad effect on the rice plant.  The leaf is erect,” said dela Cruz.

Council Complete has two active ingredients—triafamone and tefuryltrione– selected as the best from numerous studies. It can control a variety of grasses, sedges and broadleaves including echinocloa crus-galli, echinocloa colona, ludwigia octovalvis, sphenoclea zeylanica, cyerpus iria, cyperus difformis and fimbristylis milliacaea.

Council Complete is recommended for lowland rice planting and is registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) for rice only. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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