STA. BARBARA – Some 2,000 hectares of rice lands in twenty-four towns in the province are found to be zinc-deficient which explains the 25-30 percent decline in annual yield.
Provincial Agriculturist Jose Almedares said that a study made by the Bureau of Soil and Water Management revealed that the towns being closely observed and treated are farmlands in Natividad, Tayug, Laoac, Balungao, Sta. Barbara, Basista, Urbiztondo, Bayambang, Binmaley, Labrador, Burgos and Bolinao.
He said the problem surfaced five years ago.
Since then, as much as 20 kilos of zinc sulfate have been applied per hectare to solve the problem. The normal dosage is pegged at 5 kilos.
Tagged as medium areas are Urdaneta City, Villasis, Rosales, Sta. Maria, Malasiqui, Bugallon, Aguilar, Mangatarem, Infanta, Alaminos City, Agno and Mabini.
Almendares said they have also applied 10 kilos of zinc sulfate per hectare of land in Dasol, Anda, San Nicolas, San Quintin and Umingan.
Ricelands with low zinc and considered manageable are in San Manuel, Asingan, San Fabian, Manaoag, Alcala, Bautista and Mapandan.
Almendares said that zinc deficiency happens in areas along the Agno River basin where farmers plant rice thrice a year. He advised farmers in these areas to observe a gap in planting rice and instead plant high value crops in between wet and dry season.
He explained that organic matters become high and micro-nutrients become low when rice is continuously planted in ricefields submerged in water.
These results in an imbalance of nutrients for rice, he said.
He also pointed out that even those in upland areas like Bolinao, Anda and Infanta, get affected by zinc deficiency due to continuous application of inorganic fertilizer.
He said ideally, farmers should plant rice during wet and dry seasons only to allow the land they till to rest. He noted that others plant even four times a year, thus resulting in serious zinc depletion.
Almendares said the affected palay have stunted growth with reddish leaves.
He said the problem is being addressed with the help of Governor Victor Agbayani by conducting comprehensive analysis and providing techno-demo solutions to support the application of zinc sulfate in affected areas.
Once there is zinc imbalance, rice pinnacle doesn’t come out and its leaves are spotted, Almendares said.– EVA