PhilRice studies new low-cost irrigation method | Inquirer Business

PhilRice studies new low-cost irrigation method

/ 01:14 AM September 26, 2015

The Philippine Rice Research Institute is developing a lower-cost alternative to the drip irrigation method to help small-scale farmers cope with the impact of the prevailing strong El Niño.

Drip irrigation is a method that involves water delivery through a pipe distribution network consisting of a main pipe, submain, manifold and lateral pipes, PhilRice explained.

The water is emitted through small outlets of drippers or emitters into the soil to be irrigated. However, the system is costly for ordinary farmers and they also encounter problems when it is used for irrigating the soil below the ground surface.


Ricardo Orge, lead researcher of the PhilRice project, said the capillary-based irrigation method is recommended for small-scale farmers as the tillers themselves can easily fabricate and install the system.


“As a cheaper, cost-efficient alternative to drip irrigation system, our study uses a water distribution system similar to drip irrigation system,” Orge said. “However, it is equipped with emitters that make use of the capillary principle to deliver water through a wick.”

Orge explained that under normal field conditions, the water flows from the water source towards the capillary pipes, and through gravity, the water is introduced directly to the crops through the wick.

He added that because the system operates at near-atmospheric pressure, it can be made from cheaper or even recycled materials other than the conventional plastic pipes.

Orge said further testing would be conducted on the system to harness its full potential.

The prevailing El Niño continued to gain strength on pace towards its expected peak later this year as international climate experts jacked up the likelihood it would last through the northern hemisphere winter.

In its latest monthly advisory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) raised the probability of this happening to 95 percent from 90 percent previously.


The US NOAA added that the El Niño was projected to “gradually weaken through the spring of 2016.”

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) concurred, saying the El Niño continued to strengthen as oceanic and atmospheric indicators are at levels not seen since the 1997–1998 El Niño.

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“All [climate prediction] models suggest the event will peak around the end of the year, followed by rapid weakening heading into autumn 2016,” the BoM said, referring to the southern hemisphere season concurrent to the north’s spring.

TAGS: Agriculture, Business, irrigation, PhilRice

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