Laser leveling technology for agriculture
(The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Agricultural producers must embrace revolutionary strategies to increase productivity, deliver cost-effective technologies, and ensure sustainable food supply.

The International Rice Research Institute, in cooperation with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), conducted a training on basic tractor operation, maintenance and implementation of laser-assisted land leveling.

This initiative is part of the work package output of the water-efficient and risk mitigation technologies for enhancing rice production in irrigated and rainfed environments or WateRice project.

The project aims to teach the  Department of Agriculture (DA) extension agents about basic operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the laser leveling system, a farming technique that uses laser-assisted system and a drag bucket to make precise leveling of the field.

 This technology makes farming efficient by reducing water requirement during land preparation and labor requirement during weeding operation. It also improves rice crop establishment, uniformity and maturity.

As part of the training, participants had a hands-on exercise on basic tractor operation and an orientation on conducting pre-maintenance checks to ensure the equipment’s proper and long-term functioning.

They were also taught how to perform a topographic survey on the field, which is an important step in the leveling process.

The activity’s highlight was an actual engagement in leveling operations. Participants were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with laser leveling equipment, and were encouraged to raise questions regarding its use.

During the exchanges, participants learned valuable information about the technology such as the costs of laser leveling per field, the length of time it takes to laser level certain areas, and the best time of the season to conduct it.

 “Through the training, we were able to witness how laser leveling is done, and how useful it will be to the farmer,”  said Jerry Batcagan of Philrice Isabela.

For her part, Dianne Gabriel of WateRice  said: “This new technology will help women to easily participate in field work. Now, nobody can say girls can’t deal with machines.”

 “The WateRice project encounters problems during the dry season, such as water shortage and high cost of leveling. In other countries, technology is made available to small holder farmers through the private sector and service providers. We are happy that finally, we have the approval of the Department of Agriculture to acquire a laser leveling unit so we can start implementing the technique in our programs,” said Roger Barroga, head of PhilRice’s Information Systems Division.
The training was attended by 36 technicians and researchers from the DA’s field offices in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; Isabela and Batac.

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