PhilRice: Use drones to boost rice yield

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
PhilRice: Use drones to boost rice yield
Farmers harvest rice using sickles in Bocaue, Bulacan on January 2, 2024.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) yesterday asked farmers to use drone technology to boost rice yields and lower production costs.

PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute have launched the “Drones4Rice” project that aims to standardize protocols for drone applications of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides for rice production in the Philippines.

Drones4Rice lead Dr. Jasper Tallada said the utilization of drones in rice farming is rising and it can revolutionize the production of the staple.

It is also said that drones can optimize the application of inputs like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, which reduces costs.

The project lead also said that using drones in rice planting could promote gender inclusivity as women can get into rice farming by using drones for fertilizer application and seeding rice.

Tallada said the project also aims to establish drone service providers (DSPs) who can rent out or lease their drones to other farmers.

He claims that labor costs would be slashed by 50 percent as DSPs can optimize rice farming operations. He also noted that it takes a farmer half a day or a day to seed a hectare compared to just 20 minutes when using drones.

According to Tallada, the use of drones in rice production was also included in a Department of Agriculture (DA) directive on the use of the P22.903-billion financial assistance intended for fertilizers through discount vouchers and e-wallets, like the interventions monitoring card.

The Drones4Rice project, which is funded by the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research, aims to reduce production cost and need for manual labor and attract the youth to farming.

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