Thursday, 19 December 2013

Establishing a Nursery for B-IRRI-ANI

Since the holidays are coming, our team decided to grow our seeds over the vacation period. 

Our seeds were planted on their trays last December 16.

The seeds were not soaked and incubated, they were directly sown into the trays.This gives us 2-3 more days to transplant after two weeks from seeding. 

This gives us two options to have our transplanting date on either January 2 or 3. 
We decided to have it on the 3rd since most people just came back. :)

A tray of IR64 seeds.

IR64 seeds directly sown into the tray.

We had 24 trays for our 6 kg of seeds.
Those trays were covered with nets to protect the seedlings from being damaged.

We were asked to water those seeds thrice a day. Since one of us is staying for the holidays he volunteered to water them. What a relief! 

Day 3- December 19, 2013

 After 3 days some of the seeds started to germinate.

We also started our land preparation procedures. Our field was already rotovated yesterday.

This is a really fun experience. :)

We are so excited for transplanting!

Hope everything goes out well and our seedlings don't get sick. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

1st Field Visit for (B)-IRRI-ANI

7 A.M. 

Yes you read that right. 7 A.M is already late from a farmer's perspective but that's the earliest time our bodies can allow us  to go to fields.  What a lame excuse! :)

Rei and I visited plot 826 to see what's going on.  This sign greeted us and brought big smiles to our faces.

Similar to Biryani a popular dish made of rice, chicken, beef, vegetables and spices.

We were surprised to see that our neighboring field already started land preparation.

See the difference?

We have two tasks to do that day.

1. Measure our plots. 

We explored the four corners of our field with a tape measure on our hands. 
We were able to finish our field measurements and it was so much fun. By doing this, we can now  determine how much kilogram of seed is needed for our plot.

2. Plant flowers on the bunds.

We decided to try the concept of ecological engineering. We planted Marigold and Zinnia seeds along the bunds and hopefully before the season ends we see them in full bloom. Marigolds grow within 45 days. Zinnia takes about 4 weeks to grow and these colorful flowers attract butterflies.

A bag  of Zinnia seeds.

Direct seeding is the best method for the two flowers.

We roamed around our field and found a lot of Golden Apple Snail Eggs. 
They look cute (Sorry, I am being subjective since it's color pink) but this should not stop us from eliminating them since they are a great threat to our future crop.

Golden Apple Snail Eggs everywhere.

Snails are active early in the morning. We tried to hand pick some of them especially those near the bunds but they are too many.This issue leads to one of  the objectives of the second visit. ELIMINATE THE SNAILS.

Looking forward to the expert session on snails.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hello from team RICEsilient

Hi everyone!

The rain may not give it away, but the dry season in the Philippines has begunand so has the next round of the illustrious Rice Survivor challenge here at IRRI. This time, I am more than happy to take on the challenge with my fellow team mates of the team RICEsilient. We are (in alphabetical order) Berta, Lisa, Lorie, Nikos, Rexie, Samir and Sara. Though we may come from very different parts of the world, we are united by our complete lack of experience in rice farming and by our motivation to make the most out of ittrue to our motto Rice and Shine! As the other three teams in the challenge, we have a good five months ahead of us to make the most profit out of our small rice field on the IRRI premises. And in the past weeks since the challenge has officially begun, we have had time to get to know each other and to start planning the task ahead.

As our first meetings and expert sessions quickly taught us, we can be sure to know one thing: that we know nothing. (Having a Greek in the group, I think it is fair to quote Socrates here, right?) Rice farming is all about knowledge: how to prepare the land, when to apply fertiliser, which seed varieties to grow, how to get rid of those nasty snails and rats... These are just a few of the questions we will have to address in the following weeks, and some of them are more imminent than others. Luckily, we can draw upon the expertise and experience of the IRRI family to help us have an instructive and fun experience with Rice Survivor. We are looking forward to the challenge and will keep you updated on our progress.

   Rice and Shine! (And an iced latte, please...)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Team Tagumpay crams on transplanting day.

This post originally appeared on Rochie's blog.


The rain fell over the weekend, which caused some of the land preparation activities to be delayed. So when transplanting day, June 24, arrived, we were CRAMMING. The nice thing though, was that staff from the farm were on-call: if we needed help, they were there to assist; if we didn't need help, they would still stop by and make sure that we were alright.

Since there were so many things to do with the clock ticking and the labor cost meter running, the members of Team Tagumpay divided its chores. RK was at the field watching over the final land leveling while Neale and I were checking if the seedlings were ready for pulling. Maya knew where the fertilizer, which was not applied the day before because of the rain, was kept. Once we've decided that the transplanting would push through, Neale took charge of the pulling activity while I watched over the application of basal fertilizer in our newly leveled field. (I wanted to do it but the farm staff said I'd slow them down.)

One has to have a strong throwing to fertilize this field.

Once the field was fertilized, I joined Neale and learned how to correctly pull seedlings (without damaging the roots). That was scary! I didn't want my team's crop to die because I destroyed the roots! The people who were doing it routinely assured us that the plants were sturdier than they seemed. So we continued until it was time for lunch.

After lunch, Team Tagumpay had its turn in manually transplanting the crops, alongside the field workers. This was our very own "Magtanim ay 'di biro" moment caught on camera! Since we were the slowpokes, we were shooed from the field after an hour of attempting to plant rice. The field workers were so quick!

Proof that we were in the field, planting, that day.

Members of the team took rotating shifts to continuously watch over the field workers and make sure that they were planting seedlings in the right positions. Neale, RK, and Maya stayed while I went to a meeting. Then RK left to attend his meeting, with Maya returning to her own field. Once my meeting ended, I drove back to the field in time to get Neale and to fetch snacks; a technician then stopped by and watched over. When Neale and I got back, the technician was on his way out.

While waiting for the field workers to finish, Neale and I grabbed the chance to try transplanting one more time. It's okay because we were muddy already anyway. Turned out that we just needed to learn the technique! At one point, we were transplanting at the same pace as the tired field workers! I emphasize on tired because they were slower at that point than when they began earlier in the afternoon.

As the afternoon drew to a close, RK returned to see how our transplanting went. One thing's for certain, we were dirty and muddy but unbowed. In fact, we were happy when the transplanting ended!

Team Tagumpay hunts for snails.

NOTE: This post originally appeared in Rochie's blog.

As the plants grew in the nursery (and I waited impatiently), it was time to think about land preparations in time for transplanting. One of the tasks that Team Tagumpay had to agree upon was what to do with the snails. Maya, the team's environmentalist, was totally against the application of molluscicides to our team's plot (her words, not mine). So on the morning of June 21, we came to the field armed with plastic bags to hunt snails even though hunting was not allowed... at least according to the sign.

Hunting isn't allowed. Do snails count?

At first, we didn't want to go into the flooded field. Gaye Cuerdo (of The Avengers team) captured photos of Team Tagumpay staying on the sidelines, literally, collecting only the snails close to the bunds. In the end though, the snails just kept going beyond our reach. We just had to jump in... BUT there were no more cameras to take our photos because everyone in the team was collecting snails.

We didn't want to dive in at first. (Photo by Gaye; layout by Neale.)
After a few hours, our snail collections filled a plastic bag. But there were still more snails to capture. The team then agreed that it would be too risky to plant our rice seedlings in such a snail-infested field; so we ended up deciding to have the field treated with molluscicide.

So what happened to the captives? We gave them to staff at the farm. We never saw the molluscs ever again.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Paddy Wet&Wild Team

(Contributed by members of Paddy Wet &Wild Team )

What’s in a team?
Knowledge, skills, new acquaintance, bonding, fun, one goal. And, of course, mistakes and lessons are very valuable.

Why Paddy Wet&Wild?

Paddy reminds us that the activities are meant for an irrigated rice crop. Wet refers to wet season 2013.  Wild because the team will brave the wet season when there are usually are  more concerns than during the dry season. Wild ideas are accepted but not wild behaviour:+)
We are the Rice Survivor Challenge Wet Season 2013_Paddy Wet&Wild Team:  Loreto “Bhoyet” Puyod, an IT expert leads the team, a snake charmer --Yuch!; Janet “Jan” Lazarte, an accountant doing HR job, files the document and watches over the expenses, loves outdoor; Lean  Mamerto “Lean” Mercado, soil chemist and the most eligible bachelor at-large at IRRI; Xiaojia “Jia” Yin, VRF, a molecular biologist from China, also  handles quick lesson on proper use of chopsticks; Ofelia “Offie” Namuco, semi-practicing crop physiologist aspiring to become a FARMER (all caps as in BIGTIME:=)); and Tsutomo “Tom” Ishimaru,  not really a virtual member, a “double-scientist” from JIRCAS, probably “double-paid”, too.

We’re the best in what we do and what we do is the best”.

2013 May 29, Wednesday

We got a plot!

So, plot 822 (or simply 822) will be “our baby” from May to November 2013.  822 is interesting: it was not planted for two seasons and lost its  hard pan but with pretty abundant “kangkong”. It was handed to the team already plowed (Thanks to ES) but quite irregular in shape.  822 had lots of garbage (scattered in the entire plot) including pieces of broken glass bottles (e.g. Sprite), pieces or whole plastic sando bags (wonder what they contained before), Max candy wrappers, twigs (enough to injure a “green-horn”). And lately, we pulled one orange umbrella buried at the “rice root zone” in one corner of 822. We knew all about these garbage because we tried to clean as much as we can clean this “little dump site” before land prep.  In doing so, perhaps we learned to “love” 822.

The team waited for sometime before the final land prep and our excitement began seeing the plot flooded, seemingly “kangkong-free”. Our enthusiasm grew! One afternoon visit (Jia, Offie, Bhoyet) for re-measurement  of the plot was even more exciting (or frightening) as we encountered one long snake—Philippine cobra? Glad nobody accidentally stepped on it (but almost). Still, Bhoyet daringly (and naughtily) irritated the what he called a “lucky snake”.

Our “kangkong-free” 822

 2013 June 23, Sunday

Good morning, pretty sunny Sunday. 

Jia, Janet, Lean, Ken, Offie, & Bhoyet drove to G6, in tow were incubated seeds in wet jute sacks-- 3 kg of NSIC Rc238 and 2 kg of Rc222, and sterilized soil.

Wowow! We got well-prepared beds for our seedlings.  Thanks to Rod Tumambo, Pisyo, and other ES staff! We were now ready to establish the wetbed nursery for manual transplanting of Rc238.  Alas, we started sowing at about 09:00 and finished at 12:30, about 3 hours under the scorching sun.  Yes, we were pretty slow but we wanted to establish the best looking

 nursery that IRRI ever had :=).  And, we believe we put up one :=) :=). 
Everyone was serious (no breakfast yet!)

It didn’t matter if the seeds were not all on the furrow :=).

1:00 PM , we started to establish a nursery for mechanical transplanting.  One wondered why we had to grow the seedlings in trays, with soil and coconut coir dust and why not just use the old dapog system.

2013 July 4, Thursday

Two days before transplanting, we (Bhoyet, Janet, Offie) mixed and broadcast phosphorous and potassium fertilizers in the plot. These fertilizers were incorporated by harrowing twice—across and along the length of the plot.  Hands on, friends.

Nobody does it better…. than the farmers.  

How difficult harrowing was, we never knew until today.  But, it was fun.  Tatang, whom we called the Green Harrower--because he wears green all the time—was cool. He did not talk much and just let us grab the wheels from him.  Anyway, we learned that he did a re-work on what the three of us harrowed.

Scared of the pink-egged snails! We hired two macho (daw) kabesilya workers  to build canalets around the plot. These GAS ought to drown themselves in the canalets.

2013 July 6, Saturday

The weather was not so threatening. Perfect for a big haul for the team. The energy was high.The Paddy Wet&Wild was too excited to haul the seedling trays and transplant the seedlings to half of plot 822.  Everyone was in Rice Survivor t-shirt, with caps, and sunblock, and too ready to work.  But, we missed Tom – the guy on home leave.

With a million minutes of never-ending initial lesson from Coach Pisyo Malabanan, the team was ready for the day’s work—mechanical transplanting. And yes, using the Kubota mechanical transplanter.  The Paddy Wet&Wild Team members took turns to transplant NSIC Rc222. Everybody was in “LOL mode” to see how one did---after comparing rows.

If Mr. Pisyo could wear boots while mechanical transplanting, why couldn’t we?  The boots were difficult to pull from the mud but we managed


The series transplanting and the coaching and transplanting and coaching and transplanting finished in less than two hours. Isn’t that cool and neat and efficient? Oh yes, we needed breakfast so we rushed to the canteen to have rice or pandesal breakfast.  And YES, we had to return to the field to review (or appreciate) our work, and to replant because at least two of us stepped (LOL) on someone else’s row :=).  

Not so bad, ES?

Finally, Mr. Pisyo was happy his trouble :=) was over!

Nobody seemed tired—only hungry and thirsty. So after rinsing we treated ourselves with aaahhh gooood lunch, large fish, BBQ chicken, fruit shake, water, or (who had?) beer.   That was the cool down for the day. When we returned to 822, there already was a “Warning”: Kuhol Buster (saponin) was applied. 

2013 July 8, Monday

Today, one gray and one oh-wange boys pulled the Rc238 seedlings for us. Oooh, we had a lot of Rc238 seedlings and they were really healthy (As we said we’d make the most beautiful wetbed nursery that IRRI would have).

2013 July 9, Tuesday

Another big haul for the Paddy Wet&Wild—manual transplanting RC238 to the other half of 822.  Manual transplanting was no fun and seemed the most difficult task we did, so far. Imagine bending under the sun the whole time?  Ahhhh, but nope (or No way!), it was not the whole time.  We asked help from four women kabesilya workers who actually transplanted 75 % of the seedlings.


For the team, manual transplanting was not a new thing though. Remember we re-planted the missing hills in the mech-transplanted Rc222; and that was basically manual transplanting.

Yey! We’re done for the day! Really, really tired (and burnt!) but we were an accomplished bunch! And so we had something cool—another treat for ourselves. A post-lunch fresh DURIAN Feast . Isn’t that great?

2013 July 11, Thursday

Well, it’s time to nourish the seedlings, we (Bhoyet, Janet, Offie), applied ammonium sulfate, after consulting with Jorge Alvarez on the proper way to broadcast fertilizer.  (Just like the rain dance!) Was Jorge successful in teaching us? Half-man hour for Jorge versus 3- man hour for P W&W. But, see outcome to appreciate.

2013 July 15/18, Monday/Thursday

Lovely! The plants quickly recovered from malnutrition… oops, transplanting shock is the better term.

“Go SNAILS & ZOMBIES. GO finish the PW&W crop. Lusob mga kuhol”, posted by two of Bhoyet’s good FB friends. But hey, cool off, gentlemen. Didn’t you know that Bhoyet scattered a sack of fresh papaya leaves (Sorry, Cabuyao neighbor)? all around 822.  And, there was another dose of Kuhol Buster today. 

(Shhhh, don’t tell the gentlemen.  Some cutie little Zombies already feasted on a few rows!)

This Zombie was caught in the act! Did I hear Janet said oh-em-gee!?

2013 July 24/25, Thursday

Feeling a little desperate seeing many missing hills, we asked two oh-wange girls to finish re-planting (Ok, real farmers do that? They call it “hulip”). 

Trivia for today:    Did you know that P W&W has a Snaky Charmer?  That’s value added attraction! Wait for the show, it’s coming soon... after Wolverine!

Heard about the “Preggy Path” or the “Buntis Path” (coined by Bhoyet).  Come, visit our Rc 222 area. There are also “sexy paths”. Free visit and LOL.
So far so Good....

50th day after seedlings.. Applying fertilizer with the whole team.