26 Mar 2010

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2010-01

Developing Quick Guides for fertilizing hybrid maize in larger areas

Dr. Thomas Oberthür joins IPNI as Regional Director for Southeast Asia

2010 IPNI Scholar and Science Awards

News From the Region

After China, Philippines may approve GMO rice

Can corn be taught to fix its own nitrogen?

New area to be available for oil palm plantations

Vietnam limits new coffee cultivation

Drought destroys P8.4b worth of crops in Philippines

Journal Article of Interest

Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Changes in Long-Term Continuous Lowland Rice Cropping

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With activities gearing towards wider-scale dissemination of site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) for maize, the IPNI Southeast Asia Program conducted a series of consultation meetings in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam to develop Quick Guides (QG) for fertilizing hybrid maize in larger areas. A QG provides a summary of verified fertilizer recommendations and crop management guidelines designed to capture the most important factors affecting fertilizer recommendations in a region (e.g. soil type, residue management, history of fertilizer application, etc).

Quick Guides provide verified fertilizer recommendations and crop management guidelines for maize in a given region.

Dr. Mirasol Pampolino and Mrs. Julie Mae Pasuquin, agronomists of the Southeast Asia Program, attended such meetings with scientists and local experts from some of the top maize-producing regions in the three countries during February and March 2010.

Drawing upon the knowledge of scientists and local experts on the growing environment of maize in their regions, including soil fertility indicators, current yields, and common farmers’ fertilizer and crop management practices, the group was able to develop, with the aid of the newly-released software Nutrient Expert for Hybrid Maize, a set of QGs with nutrient and crop management strategies tailored to their local conditions.

Activities are underway to develop QGs, initially for existing IPNI project sites, and later for other important maize-producing regions as well. Training sessions are being planned for local partners on the use of the Nutrient Expert for Hybrid Maize software to allow them to develop crop and fertilizer guidelines for evaluation at new sites.

Quick Guides will be complemented with videos on general crop and nutrient management strategies for maize to form a package of tools that will aid in introducing new recommendations to farmers in wider-scale extension campaigns.

After China, Philippines may approve GMO rice
Effective 1 May 2010, Dr. Thomas Oberthür will be joining the staff of the International Plant Nutrition Institute as Director for the Southeast Asia Region.

Dr. Oberthür succeeds Dr. Christian Witt in this responsibility. Dr. Witt has joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Soil Health, Agricultural Development Program. He will be part of a team focusing on farmer production and agricultural development, targeting Africa and South Asia.

Before joining IPNI, Dr. Oberthür worked for the Australian Center for Agricultural Research in research and program operations management and was responsible for a wide range of adaptive and market driven research projects in Eastern Indonesia. Previously, Dr. Oberthür was with Ecoagriculture Partners (EP) from 2007 to 2008 and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) from 1999 to 2007.

As a manager and senior soil scientist, Dr. Oberthür had a scientific focus on site-specific soil and land management and spatial analysis of production systems. He has worked extensively with the food sector industry and has served as an adviser to projects related to coffee-growing communities.

The Philippines may follow China as the next Asian country to approve widespread planting of genetically modified rice crops, possibly as early as 2011.

The Philippines, the world's largest rice importer, is one of several countries currently in field tests for GMO rice crops, Robert Zeigler, director general of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), said at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

Golden Rice, a Vitamin A-enriched grain developed by the IRRI, is being bred into local varieties in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Vietnam as part of testing to ensure safety. There is a possibility that the Philippines can get approval for Golden Rice in late 2011 or early 2012.

China approved the safety of a locally developed insect-resistant Bt strain of rice last November, opening the door to widespread introduction of the GMO crop within about three years. China's newly approved pest-resistant variety could be used for up to 40 % of the rice crop in the country, the world's top producer and consumer of the grain.

Over 90 million children in Southeast Asia suffer from Vitamin A deficiency, more than in any other region, according to IRRI, and the introduction of Golden Rice in the Philippines may be largely meant to benefit public health instead of boosting yields to curb imports.

Source: Reuters, 16 March 2010, http://www.reuters.com
Can corn be taught to fix its own nitrogen?
Each year, the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) offers the Scholar Award to honor and encourage deserving graduate students, and also the IPNI Science Award to recognize and Is it possible to "teach" corn to fix its own nitrogen, thus eliminating the need for nitrogen fertilizer applications? University of Illinois agricultural engineer Kaustubh Bhalerao believes it may be, through research in an emerging area of engineering called synthetic biology.
promote distinguished contributions by scientists.Synthetic biology is a new area of research that combines science and engineering in order to design and build or "synthesize" novel biological functions and
The Scholar Award requires students who are candidates for either a M.S. or Ph.D. degree in agronomy, soil science, or related fields to submit an application and supporting information by June 30. Individual graduate students in any country where an IPNI program exists are eligible. Only a limited number of recipients are selected for the award, worth US$2,000 each. The application process is available on-line only. Recipients are announced in September.

The Science Award goes to one individual each year, based on
systems. Through this new technology, many scientists believe it may be possible to control biological systems to increase food supplies, produce energy, enhance human health, protect the environment, and more.

Bhalerao is leading a multidisciplinary research initiative with collaborators from the University of California, San Francisco; Stanford University; University of Cambridge; and New Castle University aimed at building systems that enable bacteria to spatially organize and communicate with and control plant cells. The research is funded through a grant of about $2 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation and United Kingdom's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
outstanding achievements in research, extension, or education which focus on efficient and effective management of plant nutrients and their positive interaction in fully integrated crop production, enhancing yield potential and/or crop quality. It requires that a nomination form (no self-nomination) and supporting letters be submitted by mail before September 30. The Award announcement is December 1. It includes a monetary prize of US$5,000.00. Bhalerao’s team is investigating the design of a system that enables nitrogen fixing bacteria to communicate with the root systems of corn plants. According to Bhalerao, soybean fixes its own nitrogen by sending a message to a bacterium that encourages it to colonize in the plant's roots. Once the right environment has developed, the bacteria start fixing nitrogen for that plant. This results in soybeans being naturally high in nitrogen and a protein-rich food source.

Source: Aces News, 04 March 2010,
New area to be available for oil palm plantations
Indonesia’s Agriculture Ministry plans to use 1.8 million hectares of land designated as industrial forests (HTI) as oil palm plantations, pending the issuance of a regulation. The Forestry Ministry, which is responsible for all forest-based industry, said earlier that it was drafting a decree to allow this.

According to Agriculture Minister Suswono, from the 9.7 million ha of land available for oil palm plantations, 7.9 million ha were already developed, leaving 1.8 million ha now designated as HTI areas.

Forestry Ministry head of research and development Tachrir Fathoni said the plan to allow oil palm plantation development in HTI areas would be in line with Indonesia’s effort to comply with international standards on sustainable forestry management. By definition, oil palm plantations are defined as forest, but their supervision comes under the Agriculture Ministry.
Journal Article of Interest

Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Changes in Long-Term
Continuous Lowland Rice Cropping
Tachrir said other countries, including Malaysia — the world’s second largest palm oil producer, had also included oil palm plantations in their forest sector. By doing so, Malaysia can reap financial incentives from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] for carbon trade.

Indonesia has the world’s third largest forest reserves, after Brazil and the Republic of the Congo. But Indonesia
An article published in 2008 in the Soil Science Society of America Journal refutes the widely-held notion that intensive agriculture is incompatible with soil health.

Based on analysis of soil samples collected over 15 years from four experiments begun during the 1960s, researchers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) determined that continuous rice monoculture on submerged soils consistently maintained or actually increased soil organic matter.

Their findings demonstrate that, if farmers remove crop residues from the field rather than incorporate them into the soil, this need not reduce grain yields, as long as the nutrients removed are replaced with appropriate use of chemical fertilizers.

Irrigated rice systems occupies some 24 million hectares in Asia, accounting for about 40% of global production and providing food for 1.5 billion people.

The paper, written by Dr. Mirasol Pampolino (former IRRI Associate Scientist and current SEAP agronomist) with colleagues from IRRI and the Philippine Rice Research Institute, is one of two pioneering studies whose results struck down persistent false dilemmas in development, shared the Award for Outstanding Scientific Article conferred by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) at the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2010), in Montpellier, France on 29 March 2010.

For more information, please contact Dr. Mirasol Pampolino.

The full text pdf of the paper can be downloaded free from the SSSAJ website:
Pampolino MF, Laureles EV, Gines HC, and Buresh RJ. 2008. Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Changes in Long-Term Continuous Lowland Rice Cropping. Soil Sci Soc Am J. 72: 798-807.
has recorded the highest deforestation rate globally, with more than 1 million hectares cleared per year due to illegal logging and massive forest conversion, partly for oil palm plantations.
As the world’s biggest palm oil producer, Indonesia has included crude palm oil as part of the 10 commodities to receive special support in government efforts to create large scale commercial food estates.
Nevertheless, the plan faces a great challenge from overlapping and inefficient spatial planning. The country has vowed, however, to avoid damaging protected and conservation forests. Forests cover 70% of Indonesia’s 180 million ha of land. They include 43 million ha of primary forests, 48 million ha of concession forests (half of which are damaged) and 40 million ha of critical forests (already damaged).

Source: The Jakarta Post, 17 February 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com
Vietnam limits new coffee cultivation
Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will keep the country's total coffee cultivation area between 450,000 and 500,000 ha, with an average productivity of 2 to 2.4 t/ha in coming years.

The cultivation areas will be located in several provinces in the Central Highlands and the southeast and north central regions only to ensure higher productivity and better management of coffee quality, according to the MARD's Cultivation Department.

Department representatives said that the ministry's limitation of cultivation areas was aimed to ensure stable supplies of coffee products in both domestic and overseas markets. Over the past few years, over-supply has led to a drop in the world market price.

The growth of the industry in Vietnam has been spectacular. The area under coffee has increased from a mere 19,000 ha in 1975 to 506,000 ha in 2007. Production is expected to increase from 960,000 tons in 2009 to between 1.08 and 1.26 million tons this year.

In 2009, the country exported 1.18 million tons of coffee, up 11.7% from the previous year. However, it earned just US$1.73 billion, down 18%.

Industry insiders said the prices of Vietnamese coffee products decreased due to oversupply and low quality. To ensure productivity as well as quality, the ministry plans to take other measures, including requiring localities to use new high-yielding and good quality seeds and consolidating local coffee seed multiplication establishments to ensure quality supplies. The Cultivation Department has already established a process to implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for production of Vietnamese coffee and plans to use international standards for coffee bean exports, as well as cooperate with international organizations to train producers and professional inspectors, with the aim of improving the quality of exports.

Source: VietNam News, 5 March 2010, http://vietnamnews.vnanet.vn

Quick Links to other IPNI websitesDrought destroys P8.4b worth of crops in Philippines
Oil Palm Portal

Oil Palm Discussion Forum

According to Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla, the damage wrought by El Niño to crops has amounted to P8.4 billion (US$184 million), with standing corn crop sustaining most of the damage. The government could not yet say if the damage would go beyond P11 billion as reported earlier.

The government is monitoring 14 provinces greatly affected by the drought. Still, the department has no numbers yet for the total size of farmlands affected by the drought as well as the volume of crops that were destroyed. It is estimated that over 200,000 metric tons (MT) of paddy rice was destroyed.

However, the Department of Agriculture is sticking to its projection that paddy rice output in the first half would total 7.2 million metric tons. In a crop survey for January, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said that paddy rice output in the second quarter would grow with the 1.11% expansion of harvested areas. It projected a harvest in 868,000 hectares of irrigated and rain-fed farms in the country. The projected output is expected to be more than enough to cover the national requirement for the period.

This year the Philippines will import up to 2.4 million MT of milled rice, mostly from Vietnam, to fill a possible gap in production and cover the crops damaged by typhoons late last year and the current crops affected by the drought.

Source: Manila Standard Today, 20 March 2010,
Disclaimer: News from the Region is a selection of regional agriculture-related articles extracted from internet sources. IPNI does not verify, endorse, or take responsibility for the accuracy, currency, completeness or quality of the content in these sites. Due to the nature of this service, IPNI cannot always verify every single news item. Be sure to check with the official websites of the companies, universities, research centers, and government agencies before using any information in the SEAP newsletters or webpages, as IPNI cannot vouch for news items submitted by the public. Links to external websites are included for the sole purpose of providing easy access to the source. The inclusion of external hyperlinks does not constitute IPNI’s endorsement of the views expressed by these websites. IPNI shall not be responsible for any damages caused directly or indirectly by the use of any information or content from within linked websites.

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