Saturday, September 27, 2014

Some notes on the soils and use of fertilizers and pesticides by vegetable farmers in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, Philippines

The gently rolling topography which typifies a large portion of the volcanic landscape in Claveria makes it ideal for intensive large-scale vegetable production. The widely grown vegetables include cabbage, beans, tomato, sweet pepper and eggplant.

The breathtaking volcanic landscape of Claveria, Misamis Oriental

But the strongly weathered soils which range from Oxisols in the lower slopes (about 400 to 600 m above sea level or asl) to Ultisols in the upper slopes (about 600 to 900m asl) are a major constraint to vegetable production in the area. Oxisols (also called Ferralsols) and Ultisols (also called Alisols and Acrisols) are clayey, reddish, acidic and nutrient-poor soils although they generally have good physical properties like good structure and moderate to high porosity. As in other volcanic landscapes, the oldest and most infertile soils (Oxisols) are formed on the older and stable lower slopes.

Dr. Apol & Nelds Gonzaga, Ruby Gabaca, Dr. Steve Harper & myself in front of an Ultisol soil at 920m asl. 

Farmers are apparently aware of the chemical and nutrient limitations inherent in these soils. That is why they apply lime and a variety of chemical and organic fertilizers. Rates of application are, however, not based on soil/plant tissue analysis but on what the farmers perceive as necessary. Thus, the rates appear to be insufficient in the case of lime, but excessive for the chemical fertilizers. This undoubtedly increases the production cost and can lead to more soil and environmental problems like acidification and groundwater pollution, respectively.

Heavy fertilizer application is done starting at planting of vegetables

Pest and diseases are also greatly affecting vegetable production in the Claveria landscape. As a result, farmers practice excessive application of pesticides which poses a serious threat to the health of the farming families, the consumers in urban centers, and the environment in general. The lack of awareness among farmers about the proper application of pesticides can be seen from their improper handling of these hazardous chemicals and from the fact that they just leave the pesticide containers at the farm borders.

It is common for farmers to mix two pesticides with water and spray the cocktail to the vegetables twice a week

The above observations strongly justify the urgent need for research on soil and nutrient management as well as integrated pest management in Claveria.

1 comment:

bryan flake said...

I want to put in a garden next spring and am currently planning the layout of the garden. I know that I need to care for the soil and keep the ground healthy. I am wondering what the best soil nutrients are that I could use?