16 October 2020, Los Baños, Laguna — The Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Engineering of the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA BAFE) partnered with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in organizing the webinar “Redesigning farm fields landscape through laser land leveling”, broadcasted live on 16 October 2020 via YouTube.
Laser land leveling (LLL) system is a precision technology on field leveling introduced by IRRI in collaboration with Trimble (then Spectra Precision) to stabilize rice production and improve efficiency in field operations.
In his presentation, Engr. Martin Gummert, Senior Scientist and Cluster Lead, IRRI Postharvest and Mechanization said, “Since its introduction in 1997, the technology has provided several benefits in rice production both in terms of productivity and environmental sustainability. The use of laser land leveling technology improves the efficiency of field operations, saves irrigation water of about 20-40%, increases the efficiency of input use like fertilizers and herbicides, and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). In addition, laser land leveling technology enables the consolidation of smaller fields into bigger fields creating favourable or even enabling conditions for mechanization and thus saves cost.”
In preparation for the webinar, BAFE and IRRI invited local practitioners and suppliers from countries that already adopted the technology to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences on the adoption of LLL technology.
Mr. Neil Archie Beltran of FarmOners Agriculture Cooperative, a well-known crowdfunding and machinery service provider, said, “With the use of the LLL technology, we find a solution to our problem.” He also mentioned improving conditions in San Manuel, Echague, Cagayan and how advantageous the LLL technology is over conventional leveling.
BAFE recently entered into a partnership with IRRI to improve rice-based land use effectiveness, productivity, and sustainability by fostering the adoption of LLL in the country. To seal the partnership, IRRI and BAFE led a virtual signing of the Memorandum of Agreement after the webinar.
DA BAFE Director emphasized the importance of this project with IRRI and DA’s long-standing partnership: “The LLL webinar is so timely as we are celebrating here in the Philippines, World Food Day. The Memorandum of Agreement between BAFE and IRRI implements a project known as Laser Land Leveling for Land Use Efficiency in the Philippines. It is very important and it is a strategic intervention towards the thrust of the Department for Agricultural Modernization and Farm Consolidation. We are looking forward that LLL will become a national program of the Department of Agriculture and which will soon be supported by a law/legislation.”
“This BAFE-IRRI partnership project will serve as the Department’s response to increase food production and promote farm consolidation and clustering under the Plant Plant Plant Program,” said DA Secretary William Dar. “ Specifically, it will cover the conduct of training and capacity building activities, formulation of farm operation standards, and development of a mobile application. In the long run, these activities will support our key partners in the aggressive promotion and dissemination of LLL technology in all regions across the nation.
“As we celebrate World Food Day today amidst a pandemic, it is reassuring to know that we are continuously working together to advance innovative technologies like laser land leveling with the common goal of making farming equitable and ensuring a food-secure future,” said IRRI Director General Matthew Morell. “Laser land leveling will enable farmers to efficiently manage their field activities and resources, and increase their productivity at the same time.”
The webinar was attended by government officials from the Philippine Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies and bureaus, as well as local government officials, members of the academe, and audience from other countries in Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America.
About the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering
BAFE as the engineering arm of the Department of Agriculture aims to provide technical and regulatory engineering services that are innovative, safe, and responsive to the needs of the farmers and fisherfolks and other related industry players by engaging competent and dedicated professionals, ensuring, access to modern engineering technologies and design, and creating viable partnership with all stakeholders. Moreover, BAFE envisions and ensures the effective and efficient implementation of mechanization and infrastructure interventions that will modernize the agriculture and fisheries sector, thus facilitating the sustainable increase in its productivity and competitiveness.
About the International Rice Research Institute
IRRI aims to improve livelihoods and nutrition, abolishing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition among those who depend on rice-based agri-food systems. In doing so, IRRI’s work protects the health of rice farmers and consumers, and the environmental sustainability of rice farming in a world challenged by climate change. IRRI’s work promotes the empowerment of women and supports opportunities for youth in an equitable agri-food system.