Weather station to boost sugarcane production » Manila Bulletin News

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By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

An automatic weather station (AWS)  has been installed in Pampanga to help boost irrigation and raise sugarcane yield.

Located at the Luzon Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Floridablanca, Pampanga, the Optimum Irrigation Scheduling System for sugarcane was adopted by Water Resources Management Center (WRMC) of the Central Luzon State University to help boost the country’s sugarcane yield.

In a seminar series hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, WRMC head Armando Espino Jr., said irrigation will be key to raising sugar productivity in the Philippines.

“Water is a major limiting factor for productivity (especially) in changing climatic conditions and weather patterns. The industry expansion depends upon efficient water use,” Espino said.

The sugarcane industry targets to raise yield by 2024 to 75 metric tons (MT) per hectare, up by 27 percent from the present 59 MT.

Map of Pampanga (Manila Bulletin)

Improving irrigation will be a major factor to achieve this in order to raise sugar sector’s present value of P87 billion.

WRMC’s project is under the Smart Water Management Strategies for Sugarcane (SWMS) financed by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and natural Resources Research and Development.

The installation of the AWS is with the vision to adapt a technology inspired by Australia’s National Center for Engineering in Agriculture.

Australia has an average cane yield of 91 MT of cane per hectare, with yield reaching to 120 MT per hectare.

Its sugar export hit $1.8 billion in 2015-2016, making Australia the world’s third largest sugar exporter.

Australian farmers use internet-enabled sensing technologies and can turn on or off irrigation system from their homes as they monitor farm data and give remote instruction on irrigation.

“Technology is already in the hands of farmers in Australia. They have a soil-crop-weather simulation model where farmers can expect this amount of growth response in plant when you give this amount of irrigation,” Espino said.

The irrigation scheduling system maximizes use of water, delivers water to plants only when it is needed when soil moisture is already low.

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