Danny O. Calleja | Vox Bikol
Sunday, October 17th, 2010
PILI, Camarines Sur, Oct 13 — Researchers of the Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC) have developed an innovative, environment-friendly technology to convert sweet sorghum residues into bio-organic fertilizer, agriculture officials based here revealed on Wednesday.
Bio-organic fertilizer is the compost from any organic material that has undergone rapid decomposition through the action of introduced homogeneous microbial inoculants.
It is different from fresh organic fertilizer in which natural decay process is brought about by the action of heterogeneous microbes present in the organic matter.
Compared with the traditional composting method, the introduction of microbial inoculants shortens composting time from three months to just three weeks.
Inoculants are commercially available in selected areas in the country. One of these is the Compost Fungus Activator (CFA) and often used is Trichoderma harzianum, a single-celled fungus that hastens the decomposition of organic materials high in lignin and cellulose like bagasse.
Bagasse is the pulp or dry refuse left after the juice is extracted from sweet sorghum or sugarcane stalks in the process of production of sugar, ethanol and other sweet sorghum products. Out of this refuse, the BIARC researchers produced bio-organic fertilizer.
The use of bio-organic fertilizer is promoted as inexpensive alternative to restore the fertility of poor degraded soils.
When applied to crops, bio-organic fertilizers can supply specific nutrients to plants, thus these are also known as microbial fertilizers.
Their effects include enhancing the supply and total volume of plants’ nutritional elements, stimulating plant growth, or stimulating plants’ absorption of nutritional elements.
They facilitate the continuous and long-term soil improvement and recycling and availability of nutrients and minerals essential for survival, growth, and fruit bearing of a wide variety of plants and trees.
BIARC implemented a collaborative project on the commercialization of sweet sorghum through a collaborative undertaking with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).
This resulted in the successful field tests of sweet sorghum varieties that were found suitable in Bicol’s agro-climatic condition.
From this, BIARC proceeded to the region-wide commercialization of sweet sorghum including the development of village-level technologies.
According to Romulo Cambaya, head of the Soil and Water Research Unit of BIARC who also leads this initiative, conversion of sweet sorghum bagasse into bio-organic fertilizer originated from Bicol.
Cambaya said that a one-hectare plantation of sweet sorghum will yield about 75 tons of stalks and produce some 35,000 tons of bagasse and given the technology developed by BIARC, these waste materials can be converted to approximately 150 bags of bio-organic fertilizer with value of about P37,750.
Meanwhile, Jose Dayao, the regional executive director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here, said it is more advantageous to use bio-organic fertilizers than chemical fertilizers.
“Since bio-organic fertilizer involves recycling of nutrients from waste material, it is a cheap alternative or supplement to inorganic fertilizers. Thus, using it leads to increase in yield and profit. Soil tilth and fertility are also enhanced,” Dayao said.
With decreasing input price, he said bio-organic fertilizers can increase farmers yield and profit from 30 to 200 percent. Agricultural and industrial wastes if processed into biodegradable fertilizers and enhanced with microorganisms can continuously improve the growth, protection, and productivity of the plants or crops.
A 25,000 kilogram of sweet sorghum bagasse can produce 125 bags of the bio-organic fertilizer which can be sold at P230 per bag, with a gross value of P28,750, Dayao added. (PNA)