BAGUIO CITY – In an effort to relieve farmers from the rising cost of fertilizers, the Cordillera office of the Department of Agriculture (DA-CAR) through the Integrated Laboratory Division (ILD) is now producing Bio-N fertilizers.
Bio-N was pioneered by the University of the Philippines through the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH). Based on its intensive studies and research, the Bio-N, which also serves as a seed inoculant, is a microbial-based fertilizer made from Azospirillum bacteria, which is isolated from wild cane grass or talahib roots which will then aid nitrogen fixation from the air to be used by plants. The biofertilizer helps increase the yield of crops and makes plants greener and healthier even in the presence of pests and drought. Bio-N can also be used for watering rice seedlings in a tray/dapog and a slurry for transplant seedlings.
Currently, ILD already produced 1,871 packs, of which 774 packs are available for distribution. Agriculturist Cherryl C. Lem-ew, who is leading the production, said that the beneficiaries will be identified by the Field Operations Division (FOD) through its banner programs and will be in charge of the distribution, “Since the prices of fertilizers are continuously rising, the Bio-N will be complimentary as a supplementary to urea or nitrogen fertilizer. When used in production, it replaces at least one bag of urea requirement while reducing the production resources and costs,” she claims.
To produce the biofertilizer, two components are needed: a solid carrier which is composed of finely ground soil and charcoal, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The soil will first be solar or oven-dried before it will be pulverized and mixed with the pulverized charcoal in a 3:1 ratio, respectively. Approximately 165g of the carrier is weighed and placed into each packet. 40-50 packets will be bagged for sterilization for three days, 1 hour each day.
Meanwhile, the bacteria are effective nitrogen fixers and the bacterial cultures are grown in a medium that contains DL-malic acid as the main carbon source, and other essential salts and chemicals.
A comparative cost analysis was also done to determine the production cost and savings of a farmer if they use the biofertilizer in their production. The usual average use of urea in the region is four bags per hectare, which costs 10,000 pesos or 2,500 pesos per bag. The Bio-N meanwhile costs 100 pesos per packet. By switching one bag of urea to 6 packets of Bio-N, the total cost will only be 8,100 pesos per hectare against the usual rate of using urea alone. Therefore, farmers can save up to 1,900 pesos per hectare.
Lem-ew added that Bio-N is environmentally safe and can eliminate the risk of groundwater pollution caused by nitrate which results from excessive use of inorganic fertilizers and animal waste.
DA-ILD started production on the third week of January 2023 and the distribution of which is to be scheduled. By CEWaytan