To achieve self-sufficiency in rice, production must be pursued within a sustainable framework, one that meets the country’s current food demand and yet protects the environment. The use of organic fertilizers, such as compost, either alone or in combination with inorganic fertilizers, is one of the measures incorporated in the Agrikulturang MakaMASA program to promote sustainable crop production.
Past efforts to promote compost-making have been constrained, to a large extent, by the relatively low cost of chemical fertilizers. But even with the increased cost of fertilizers in recent years, few farmers adopted this technology because of the following reasons:
- It takes a long time to produce
- It takes large quantities of raw materials.
- It is laborious.
- Beneficial effects on the soil are not easily seen or felt.
But now, composting technology has considerably improved so that compost can be made in just 3-4 weeks!
What is a Compost?
Compost is a mixture of decayed organic materials decomposed by microorganisms in a warm, moist, and aerobic environment, releasing nutrients into readily available forms for plant use.
Why Use Compost?
- There is a need for sustainable production through integrated nutrient management.
- Compost produces less methane than uncomposted rice straw when incorporated in the soil.
- It solves the problem of declining yield.
- It corrects micronutrient problems such as zinc deficiency.
Benefits of Using Compost
- Big savings, increase farmers self reliance.
- Increases yields.
- Improves soil tilt and structure.
- Increases water-holding capacity of the soil.
- Improves aeration.
- Provides humus or organic matter, vitamins, hormones, and plant enzymes which are not supplied by chemical fertilizers.
- Acts as buffer to changes in soil pH.
- Kills pathogenic organisms, weeds and other unwanted seeds when temperatures of over 60 C is reached.
- Mature compost quickly comes into equilibrium with the soil.
- Different materials can be blended or mixed which can increase the nutrient content of the compost fertilizer.
Recommended Fertilizer Rate
The Agrikulturang MakaMASA program recommends basal application of 6-8 bags inorganic fertilizer and 8 bags organic fertilizer per hectare. By composting all the rice straw after harvest, this requirement is adequately met, and one does not need to buy commercial organic fertilizer.
- 5 tons rice straw (0.58% N) and;
- 2 tons compost (1.5%-3%N)
Enriched with animal manure, nitrogen-rich farm residues such as legumes, and acted upon by microorganims like fungus Trichoderma sp. and nitrogen fixing bacteria, Azotobacter sp.
3 Ways of making compost
- Traditional Method – This is slow process, requiring 3-4 months before warm wastes are fully decomposed and ready for use as compost fertilizer. This means that the fertilizer can only be used after one planting season. This also requires a bigger composting area. However, this method involves only eight steps, and it is inexpensive to produce, requiring no extensive inputs except labor.
- Rapid Method – With the aid of fungus activator Trichoderma harzianum, decomposition of farm wastes is accelerated to just 3-4weeks! This means that the compost can be used in the next planting season. This involves ten steps.
- Bio-Enriched Method – Employing both a fungus activator and a nitrogen-fixing bacteria, farm wastes are first decomposed by Trychoderma sp. for 2-3 weeks, after which the resulting compost is inoculated with live N-fixing bacteria Azobacter sp. inocubation for one week produces a nitrogen-enriched compost that can supply a rice crop’s total N requirement. Depending on the material used, soil condition, and planting season, this involves 10 steps.
NOTE: For the Rapid and Bio-Enriched methods of composting, procedures in preparing these microorganism activators are available at the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) of the University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB), College, Laguna; and at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).