26 Jul 2010

SEAP Quarterly Newsletter 2010-02

In this IssueYield intensification in oil palm using BMP
IPNI Program Updatesas a management tool
Yield intensification in oil palm using BMP as a management tool

News From the Region


Philippine DA, IRRI ink deal on telco-aided rice project

Saudi Arabia ready to invest on rice development in Indonesia

New water system in the Mekong Delta boosts rice production


RP maize farmers wary of superweeds threat in US


Indonesia to receive first $200 million grant from Norway

Indonesia-Malaysia producers may decide to ignore RSPO


Philippines launches law to encourage technology transfer

Vietnam fertilizer law urged to stop losses

New Journal Articles of Interest

Field-specific potassium and phosphorus balances and fertilizer requirements for irrigated rice-based cropping systems

Estimating maize nutrient requirements

New Tools on the Web

New Web-Based Decision Tools on Nutrient Management for Rice

The gap between actual yield and maximum yield potential at a plantation may be partitioned into 3 components – Yield Gap 1 due to inefficiencies during plantation development and the immature period, Yield Gap 2 due to inaccurate assessment of nutrient needs, and Yield Gap 3 due to inefficient management of the mature stand. Gaps 2 and 3 can be corrected in existing mature plantations using the best management practice (BMP) concept developed by IPNI. In the concept, a set of selected BMPs are implemented in several full-sized blocks representing a plantation and assessed for agronomic, economic and environmental performance, in comparison to a parallel set of reference (REF) blocks. More than just the practices in themselves, it is the process of BMP implementation and evaluation that is the management tool, providing practical, commercial-scale evidence to guide decisions on investments for yield intensification.

Since July 2006, IPNI has established 30 commercial blocks with BMP in collaboration with its plantation partners at 6 sites in Indonesia. IPNI Southeast Asia Program Consulting Agronomist Christopher Donough presented results of the ongoing BMP project at the International Oil Palm Conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on June 1-3, 2010.

Results to date show the robustness of the BMP concept and its applicability across a wide range of environmental and operating conditions. Bunch yield with BMP averaged 3.4 t ha-1 (+15%) higher due to more (+9%) and heavier (+6%) bunches. Crop recovery BMPs including a short harvest interval are important for high bunch yield in the short term, while other agronomic BMPs related to canopy and nutrient management are important for sustained or enhanced yield in the longer term. Cost per unit area is higher with BMP, but higher BMP yield improves profitability at the farm gate. In the final year of the project, oil and kernel yields are being estimated. The BMP concept is a model for continuous improvement – a BMP that is successfully evaluated becomes current practice, and a new cycle of BMP evaluation starts.

News from the Region

Philippine DA, IRRI ink deal on telco-aided rice project
The Department of Agriculture and the International Rice Research Institute are turning to technology to help farmers boost rice production. Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla and IRRI Director General Robert Zeigler have signed a memorandum of agreement to implement a project that will use the Internet and cellular phones to give farmers advice on such matters as the timing and amount of fertilization for rice farms.

The project, dubbed NMRice (Nutrient Management for Rice), will use the existing Farmers' Contact Center being managed by the DA's Agricultural Training Institute as an information gateway. Globe Telecom will be tapped to provide information to farmers through an Interactive Voice Response. The country's second-largest telco will provide a four-digit hotline number which will be announced soon. As for content, IRRI will provide the data on improved production practices, as agreed under the memorandum.

The DA will release P1.8 million (US$39,000) to IRRI for NMRice, promote the resource tool, and put in place the mechanism for delivering the information to farmers. Fondevilla said that many farmers often do not bother to read the printed materials given to them on proper fertilizer management because they find these too complex to understand and follow. In contrast, the NMRice interface was designed so that a caller, say a farmer or extension worker, will be asked 10 to 15 simple questions. The caller can key-in answers by clicking on a computer keyboard or pressing numbers on a cellular or fixed phone. Afterwards, the caller gets a customized guide on the amount and timing of the fertilizer application based on a selected rice variety. ATI Director Asterio Saliot said each inquiring farmer or extension worker is expected to get information in 15 minutes.

Source: Inquirer.Net, 08 June 2010, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net
Saudi Arabia ready to invest on rice development in Indonesia
The Saudi government has expressed its interest in investing in the rice development sector in Indonesia, according to a cabinet minister. Minister of Agriculture Suswono said that in order to meet its domestic need, Saudi Arabia imported one million tons of rice per annum. The country also imported three million tons of wheat and seven million tons of barley to meet its need for cattle feeds.

"The Saudi minister for agriculture expressed the readiness of his country to make investment in Indonesia, particularly in the rice development sector," the minister explained after his visit to Saudi Arabia on June 11-13, 2010. He said that in his meeting with the Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hani Abiras, they agreed the need to increase Saudi investment in the agricultural sector, particularly food, cattle breeding, fowl industry, cattle feed and fisheries.

Source: Antara News, 17 June 2010, http://www.antaranews.com
New water system in the Mekong Delta boosts rice production
A nine-year pilot project deploying an integrated water management system has proved its efficacy and has the potential for much wider application. The North Vam Nao Water Control Project, the first of its kind with a modern and unified water management model, was built and operated on An Giang's North Vam Nao Island between 2002 and 2010 with support from the Australian Government. Do Vu Hung, deputy director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the project aimed to establish and operate an integrated water management system in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, reduce poverty and improve the livelihoods of the local people. Hung, who is also head of the project's management board, said the two-phase project covered the whole of Phu Tan District and a part of Tan Chau District.

Project plans were made on the basis of the location of water sources, not administrative boundaries, in order to provide maximum utility, efficiency and equitability. The first phase of the project which ended in 2007, cost AU$35.7 million (US$29.7 million), with AU$17.5 million granted by AusAID and the remaining taken from the State budget. Five old sluices were upgraded or replaced and 11 new sluices built during the first phase of the project. It upgraded a 100-km ring dyke system to meet set safety standards, increasing its height to 5.7 m. Within this system, a further 300 km of dykes in the 24 compartments that the project area was divided into were upgraded to reach a height of 4 m. Roads, power lines, solid waste collection and clean water supply stations were also built during the period.

The second phase, implemented at a cost of AU$950,000, sought to consolidate the operation of the integrated water management system as well as enhance the capacity of the institutions responsible for operating and maintaining it. This phase was implemented between 2008 and 2010.

The water management system had benefited nearly 270,000 local residents in the project area by allowing them to triple-crop on land formerly inundated during the flooding season, increasing rice production by nearly 50%. An area of more than 22,000 ha under rice production was being used for a third crop, the autumn-winter crop, because the system efficiently regulated and controlled floods. The increased rice productivity had created more jobs and reduced poverty in the area. The water management system also facilitated road transportation during the flood season and reduced flood damage to households, infrastructure and livelihood. Climate change and water shortages in the dry season are among the challenges facing the project in the future.

Source: Vietnam News, 27 May 2010, http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn
RP maize farmers wary of superweeds threat in US
The spread of superweeds in the US that have immunity to the herbicide glyphosate has become a matter of concern to Filipino farmers cultivating biotech corn for years. The area planted to genetically-modified (GM) corn in the Philippines has expanded since 2003 on account of the high output and less dependence on herbicides.

The use of the genetically-engineered Roundup Ready corn in the US, with its herbicide (glyphosate)-resistant characteristics, led to the rise of superweeds, initially discovered in Delaware in 2000. According to the New York Times superweeds are threatening to reduce the yields of US farmers who now have to apply a variety of herbicides to stop the growth of the superweeds.

Monsanto Philippines says the company is fighting a prolonged, but manageable, battle with the superweeds. The company has been pushing for the best practices to battle superweeds with no less than 80 studies being conducted by US scientists in finding the best way to eliminate them. This is the response of the company to a recent report of the US National Research Council (NRC) entitled "Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States" issued in April.

While NRC confirmed that farmers who have adopted biotech crops have "experienced lower costs of production and obtained higher yields in many cases because of more cost-effective weed control and reduced losses from insect pests," it also warned of dire consequences if genetically-engineered crops and associated technologies are not managed prudently in the future. NRC said weed resistance to glyphosate is an issue that deserves attention not only by Monsanto, which manufactures glyphosate, but also by other agricultural stakeholders. Monsanto said glyphosate continues to manage 300 different types of weeds and added that there is no single management method that can completely eradicate weeds.

On the part of Filipino corn farmers, fears are rife that their stands of Roundup Ready might be ruined by these weeds, leading to lower output and, corollarily, lesser incomes. NRC concluded that efforts must be undertaken to eliminate glyphosate-resistant weeds that have grown in fields where Roundup Ready corn is cultivated. To obviate the possibility of glyphosate-resistant weeds ruining corn stands, NRC said farmers must adopt better management practices and more research is needed to address this issue. NRC recommended that farmers of herbicide resistant crops should incorporate more diverse management practices like: Herbicide rotation, herbicide application sequences, and tank-mixes of more than one herbicide; herbicides with different modes of action, methods of application, and persistence; cultural and mechanical control practices; and equipment-cleaning and harvesting practices that minimize the dispersal of herbicide resistant weeds.

Source: The Manila Bulletin, 30 May 2010, http://www.mb.com.ph
Indonesia to receive first $200 million grant from Norway
Indonesia will receive the first US$200 million in grants from Norway between 2010 and 2011, as part of the $1 billion grant to reduce emissions from deforestation, a minister said. In the agreement, Norway has pledged to disburse the money in three phases: Capacity building, in which the government will set up an oversight agency; a pilot project, in which the government will select one forest; and nationwide, in which the government will reduce emissions from forests nationwide.
“The first phase begins now until 2011. There will be consolidation and capacity building. We will build an internationally reputable financial institution, to be completed in October 2010, in which Norway will disburse $200 million,” according to Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa.

The minister added that in 2011 the government would select one forest, which would comply with the MRV scheme. MRV stands for measurable, reportable and verifiable, in which every ton of emission cut should be assessed by independent auditors. The already identified forests are located in East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Papua, Riau and either Jambi or Bengkulu provinces. In 2013 all forests nationwide will be protected as part of the government’s effort to reduce Indonesia’s carbon emissions by 26% by 2020 with its own resources, or by 41% with international help.

For the second and third phases Norway will disburse the money based on the amount of emissions cut. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government would establish a credible financial institution to manage the $1 billion grant, in response to a memo sent by Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chairman of the Presidential Working Unit for Development Supervision and Control.

Kuntoro said developed countries had a perception that emerging countries tended to think funds were prone to corruption. “The President said we should earn the trust of foreigners, particularly in relation to budgets,” he said. Kuntoro has been named as a strong candidate to head the new financial institution that will manage the $1 billion grant, considering his capacity in managing the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency of Nias and Aceh, hit by the 2004 tsunami.

The Indonesia-Norway agreement also requires a two-year moratorium on new concessions on peat lands and natural forests. Hatta said the palm oil industry would not be hurt by the moratorium as the government had already allocated 8.5 million hectares of land for the industry’s operations.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 11 June 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com
Indonesia-Malaysia producers may decide to ignore RSPO
Major producers of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia say they may disregard the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) if the international forum insists on raising the threshold on the principles and criteria for certification of mills and plantations.

Indonesian producers have even moved further teaming up with government to establish a domestic forum in a bid to create principles and criteria that are compatible with conditions specific to the country.

RSPO is currently reviewing the certification criteria and may adopt new provisions, which may be deemed too restrictive by most producers in developing countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. A working group under RSPO said the new certification criteria should include routine monitoring of carbon intensity standards in all palm oil plantations. All palm oil plantation areas, the working group proposes, must produce no more than 35 tons of carbon per hectare and cannot be allowed to be established on peat lands.

The working group is scheduled to meet with all and any stakeholders in Kuching, Malaysia, in May, to decide on these revisions. Joko Supriyono, the secretary-general for the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers’ Association (Gapki), said six palm oil associations from both countries had agreed to reject the above amendments to the certification process. “The existing certification process, which includes nine principles and 139 criteria for CPO certification, has already caused many difficulties for the industry … they cost so much and consume so much time, usually a year,” Joko said. Joko said there were now only three Indonesian palm oil firms that could pass the certification process. Palm oil producers, Joko said, only controlled about 30% of the voting rights in the palm oil forum while the rest were controlled by NGOs, big buyers, and banks. “We will lose in the voting process … if the forum disregards our concerns, we will walk out and refuse to use our right to vote,” he said.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Khrisnamurti said Indonesia would soon have its own roundtable on sustainable palm oil. The ministry, he said, is currently working with the office of the coordinating economic minister to draft the provisions necessary for establishing the local forum. Bayu said the domestic roundtable would be a response to unfair proceedings in RSPO, which had been heavily influenced by European perspectives. “Some RSPO members are inconsistent. Take Unilever, it did not consult the forum when it made its decision based on reports from NGOs, instead they panicked,“ he said referring to the decision by the world’s biggest palm oil buyer to terminate all deals with Indonesian company, Sinar Mas, due to environmental concerns put forward by NGOs.

Indonesia is the biggest producer of palm oil, having contributed 44.5% to the world’s total output of 42.9 million tons in 2008, while Malaysia was the second biggest, having contributed 41%. As from 2015, the entire group of European Union member states will only import CPO from companies whose production is certified by RSPO.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 21 April 2010, http://www.thejakartapost.com
Philippines launches law to encourage technology transfer
The Philippines has introduced new intellectual property rights legislation in an attempt to get the fruits of government-funded research out of laboratories. The Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009, which took effect in May, makes research and development (R&D) institutions the default owner of intellectual property rights (IPR) arising from the results of government-funded research. This means scientists will now be allowed to create, manage or serve as consultants to companies that can commercially exploit technology arising from their government-funded research.

Ownership of IPR in the Philippines has been subject to debate among scientists, their institutions and funding agencies. The new legislation is intended to clear up this ambiguity over the ownership of IPR to publicly-funded research. The issue has hampered commercialization, said Albert P. Aquino, head of the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) Technical Working Committee on Technology Transfer, which drafted the law. It provides a financially rewarding environment for both the research institution and scientists, he added.

The content of the act was largely inspired by the 1980 US Bayh-Dole Act. The act allowed universities and other institutions, rather than the government, to patent publicly funded research. Its supporters say it spurred innovation and led to the licensing of countless technologies that would otherwise have been ignored.

But critics have warned that the wholesale adoption of such legislation may not be appropriate for developing countries. One concern is that it might not be possible for innovations to be made accessible to the poor if exclusive marketing rights for a product are granted to a single firm.

Anthony So, professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University, United States, co-authored a paper analyzing the implications of the US experience with Bayh-Dole for developing countries. Safeguards should be included in similar legislation in developing countries to ensure that it works in the public interest.

Aquino assures that safeguard mechanisms are present in the Philippine Act. "The law specifically provides for government funding agencies, or for that matter the government, to take control of the technologies or intellectual property rights if national interest is at stake," he said. The DOST, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, government funding agencies, R&D institutions and other stakeholders will draft the implementation rules and regulations over the next months. One issue they will address is how much money institutions must contribute to the administration costs of higher rates of technology transfer caused by such legislation — an issue which has caused concern in India.

Source: SciDev.Net, 20 May 2010, http://www.scidev.net
Vietnam fertilizer law urged to stop losses
Vietnamese agricultural experts have suggested that new legislation be enacted to better protect the domestic fertilizer market. Speaking at a seminar held in An Giang Province, they said the country had become one of the world's top rice exporters with the help of favorable natural conditions and the government's support policies, but poor management of the fertilizer market had caused losses for farmers.

The use of mineral fertilizer on Vietnamese fields had increased year by year, from 40 kilos per hectare in 1976-1981, to 120 kilos in 1982-1988, and to 140-150 kilos now. The use of plant protection chemicals has also increased, as shown by the local pesticide industry's average annual growth rate of five per cent in recent years. In 2009, the country used a total of 8 million tonnes of fertilizer and 50,000 tonnes of plant protection chemicals.

Despite the need for such large volumes of fertilizer and pesticide, the domestic fertilizer market still relies mostly on imported products. Most domestic producers must import raw materials to make fertilizer, which raises production costs. Between 2001 and this year, the market had imported 60% of urea fertilizer and 100% of imported fused calcium magnesium phosphate (FMP), ammonium sulphate (SA) and Kali fertilisers.

Multi-layered distribution networks, together with weak oversight by market management agencies, are also factors that have significantly raised prices of fertilizers and pesticides, and led to a preponderance of low-quality products on the market. Fertilizer and pesticide company agents are receiving 20-40% commission compared with the producers' prices. As a result, many kinds of agricultural materials have had prices raised by 30-40% compared with the factory rates charged directly to farmers.

Bui Ba Bong, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, also stressed the need to apply strict fines or penalties on those who produce or trade in fake or low-quality fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizer manufacturers who doctor their products for profit will be fined up to VND150 million (US$8,000) by inspectors from the ministries of Industry and Trade and Agriculture and Rural Development, according to officials.

This was the first time the two ministries had been authorized to punish fertilizer companies that broke the law as there have been an increasing number of cases of fake fertilizers being sold on the market. Last year a fertilizer manufacturer in the Central Highlands had used salt to bulk up the volume of its product with the result that hectares of coffee plantations were ruined. In 2008, inspectors analyzed one product and found that it contained no nitrogen at all, the basic constituent of fertilizer.

Officials said provincial authorities should be more rigorous with their checks before issuing business permits. There are doubts, however, that the inspection programme would be effective as government regulations state that firms must be given seven days prior notice before inspections are carried out, leaving companies enough time to cover their tracks. Inspectors have to be circumspect when investigating companies suspected of doctoring their products, for example, getting fertilizer samples without the firm's knowledge. Out of 270 products inspected during the first six months of last year by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 110 were found to be substandard.

The domestic market consumes about 9.1 million tonnes of fertilizer a year. Of that, 3.3 million is imported, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Source: Vietnam News, 24 May 2010, http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn
New web-based decision tools on nutrient management for riceField-specific potassium and phosphorus balances and fertilizer requirements for irrigated rice-based cropping systems
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has released two web-based nutrient management decision tools, which are available at www.irri.org/nmrice.

Nutrient Teacher for Rice illustrates how fertilizer guidelines are formulated for a rice crop based on information obtained from the answers to questions about rice-growing conditions. It uses information on crop establishment, variety, growth duration of rice, yield, residue management, soil fertility, and use of organic materials to determine rates of fertilizer N, P, and K. It is targeted for students and instructors in soil and crop sciences and for researchers desiring a rapid generic fertilizer guideline based on the principles of site-specific nutrient management (SSNM).

Nutrient Manager for Rice Tutorial demonstrates how fertilizer guidelines are formulated for rice based on the answers to five questions about rice-growing conditions. It provides an introduction to the suite of Nutrient Manager for Rice decision tools, each tailored for rice production in specific countries or major rice-growing regions.

Web versions of Nutrient Manager for Rice decision tools released for countries and major rice-growing regions can also be accessed at www.irri.org/nmrice.

The development and dissemination of SSNM for rice have been made possible by long-term support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), and the International Potash Institute (IPI).
This article published recently in the Plant and Soil Journal, discusses how fertilizer K and P requirements for rice can be determined with site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) using estimated target yield, nutrient balances, and yield gains from added nutrient.

Authored by Dr. Roland Buresh (International Rice Research Institute), Dr. Mirasol Pampolino and Dr. Christian Witt (IPNI, Southeast Asia Program), the article also presents algorithms and procedures for determining internal nutrient efficiencies for rice using the QUEFTS model and nutrient balances for three rice-based cropping systems (rice-rice, rice-wheat, and rice-maize).

Based on their analysis, a partial maintenance approach for determining fertilizer K and P requirements is recommended when the expected yield gain from an added nutrient is small or negligible. This approach ensures a balance between short term profitability and longer-term sustained productivity without yield loss due to nutrient deficiency. Where yield gains to an added nutrient are certain, a partial maintenance plus yield gain approach can be used to determine fertilizer requirements.

Although the SSNM-based principles and algorithms for K and P presented in this paper are for rice, these can also be readily adapted for use with wheat and maize with appropriate adjustments for nutrient use efficiencies determined with the QUEFTS model.

For more information, please contact Dr. Roland Buresh.


Buresh RJ, Pampolino MF, Witt C. Field-specific potassium and phosphorus balances and fertilizer requirements for irrigated rice-based cropping systems. Plant Soil (2010). doi:10.1007/s11104-010-0441-z.
Subscribe to the SEAP NewsletterEstimating maize nutrient uptake requirements
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A collaborative paper by scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the IPNI Southeast Asia Program, and the International Rice Research Institute published in Field Crops Research discusses the development of a generic QUEFTS model and a simpler, spherical model on grain yield-nutrient uptake relations in maize across a wide range of maize environments and grain yield levels.

The modelling approach described in the paper not only allows the estimation of nutrient requirements for achieving a specified yield target, but also provides a powerful tool for identifying nutritionally and economically optimal yield targets in relation to yield potential at a given location.

The generic methodology used in this study can also be applied to developing more specific envelopes describing the relationship between grain yield and nutrient uptake in maize. This would take into account genetic, environmental or management differences that may affect the internal efficiency of nutrients, such as those between open-pollinated and hybrid varieties, if there are systematic differences in harvest index or nutrient uptake and translocation. A key requirement for doing such specific adjustment is that reliable grain yield and uptake data are collected under best management practices and conditions that fully reflect farming environments and not just those of a few research stations.

For more information, please contact Dr. Achim Dobermann.

Setiyono TD, Walters DT, Cassman KG, Witt C, Dobermann A. Estimating maize nutrient uptake requirements. Field Crops Res. (2010). doi:10.1016/j.fcr.2010.05.006.

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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