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Smart Agriculture to Boost High-End Crops in the Philippines

Calabarzon’s Department of Science and Technology (DOST 4-A) is assisting smart agriculture by increasing the production of high-end melon types. They have provided funds for Bukid Amara’s completely automated greenhouse in Lucban, Quezon province. Bukid Amara’s automated greenhouse employs a drip irrigation system, and the company has developed a nutrient solution for musk melon that is delivered using drip irrigation.

This systems works by gently and directly providing the nutritional solution to the plant root. The farm’s irrigation and nutrient feeding programme are plant driven, with the amount of irrigation, nutrient concentration, and the fraction of fertigation modified based on crop growth stage, season, and crop evapotranspiration rate.

“The automated greenhouse system could provide automatic dosing of nutrient solution and automatic climate sensing for temperature and lighting detection, ensuring appropriate and timely irrigation and fertigation management, thereby maintaining a consistent growing environment for optimum crop growth and quality,” explained the farm’s owner, Michael Caballes.

Caballes further stated that because the greenhouse system uses a recirculating system for fertiliser solution delivery to the crops, 15% to 20% of nutrient solution run-off will be avoided. Instead, this will be restored to the reservoir and fed back to the crops.

The DOST recently financed the Bukid Amara automated greenhouse in Lucban town, Quezon province, for PHP3 million through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Programme (SETUP). The initiative boosts the production efficiency of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses by providing them with a three-year loan.

One project will not strengthen agriculture in the entire region, DOST 4-A Director Emelita Bagsit concurred. However, according to the DOST, the automated technology could increase Bukid Amara’s production capacity.

According to Caballes, the anticipated increase in power, adequate irrigation, and fertigation management will allow Bukid Amara to expand in developing other high-value melon cultivars.

Caballes has been holding seminars and training on smart agriculture, which may motivate other farmers in Calabarzon to adopt similar technology. Bukid Amara produces melon varieties such as Japanese, Yellow Canary, Persian, Piel de Sapo (Spanish), Israeli, and Galia.

“In terms of technological growth, they cultivated suitable types in a single system, which means mixed varieties are grown in a single greenhouse. The methods of growth and maturity are the same. They merely differ in scent and flavour. (Bukid Amara’s) automated greenhouse system will be primarily allocated to Japanese melon, with existing rain shelters and greenhouse systems devoted to other melon kinds,” Bagsit noted.

Furthermore, the involvement enables him to reduce manufacturing and labour costs. “The system might perform some monotonous duties performed by staff. This would result in a 20 per cent reduction in labour and material expenditures because the workers may now conduct other jobs regularly,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Bagsit emphasised that the DOST and its affiliated organisations will continue to support smart agricultural activities because it is one of the keys to the food industry’s competitiveness, sustainability, and security.

Aside from the Philippines, governments from all over the world have made similar initiatives. The NSW government has provided up to AU$ 35,000 in cash for farmers to improve their agricultural technology and connections, allowing them to increase production and secure a better future for their enterprises.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW supports the Farms of the Future programme, funded by the NSW Government with AU$20 million in grants. The programme is intended to support agricultural technology and connection solutions for a wide range of soil moisture sensors to mobile monitoring dashboards. It provides money for cutting-edge technologies, allowing producers to increase efficiency and productivity.


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