With all the undesirable climate change effects in agriculture, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) initiated and funded programs and projects addressing the negative effects of climate change in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sectors through the utilization of modern tools and techniques or Smarter Agriculture. One of these initiatives under the Smarter Agriculture is the “Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (SARAI)” program, which is led by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
The program has five component projects. Its main objective is to provide a decision support system (e.g. crop advisories, forecasts, and management) in dealing with climate change effect in the agricultural sector using advances in S&T. The program will help farmers and decision makers come up with sound and science-based judgments under certain situations. As of 2015, the program has already produced outputs that can be grouped into four categories: technologies, systems, data products, and networks or linkages.
Among the technologies developed for SARAI include the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPId Tech), a mobile application that can identify agricultural pests in the field using image scanning; Cost-efficient Soil Moisture Monitoring System for Soil Water Deficit, which measures and monitors soil moisture; Water Management Decision Support System (WAISS) that estimates soil moisture deficit in annual crops like rice and corn and provides early warning for crop water stress; SARAI Enhanced Agricultural Monitoring System (SEAMS), which monitors in real-time the condition of the area planted to a crop through daily updated satellite images; Maize Nutrient Expert, a system that provides comprehensive farm analysis; and crop suitability maps, (for rice, corn, banana, coconut, coffee, and cacao) which shows three categories of crop production suitability – high, moderate, and marginal. Moreover, the program uses Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to provide real-time weather data and aid in the statistical modelling for the crop forecasts and advisories.
Smarter Agriculture will be featured along with DOST-PCAARRD’s leading R&D initiatives in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sectors during the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on July 25-29 at the Council’s complex. This year’s NSTW adopts the theme, Juan Science, One Nation.
The Council will also celebrate its fifth anniversary on July 28, 2016. This will highlight the National Symposium on Agriculture and Aquatic Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD) in the morning and awarding of papers in the afternoon. The NSAARRD showcases the most outstanding contributions of individuals and institutions in improving the state of the AANR sectors through research and development.
An unmanned aerial vehicle helps in taking images of the farm (Photo from UPLB)
An automatic weather station installed and used by SARAI (Photo from UPLB)
The Project SARAI team with Climate Field School trainees at Dumangas, Iloilo City (Photo from the Project SARAI Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/projectsarai/)