Monday, March 02, 2015

Natural Pool to Cool Down

Photos below I took last February 14, 2015 at the farm. The hot months of March  to May have started. It's good to  have even a small pool to cool down for a few minutes. I cleared this area of decaying leaves and branches at the bottom. After about two hours, it's clear. somehow.

Not deep, maybe about 2 1/2 feet, enough to submerge my body and feel the cool water even at noon time.

Some small fishes tried to  come in, I shooed them away :-)

After lunch, we (I brought my family there) left the farm and proceeded to Lingayen beach.

See also: 
Caught in a flash flood, June 18, 2006 
My treehouse in the farm, February 25, 2009 
My swimming pool in the farm, 2005, June 10, 2011 
Creek, canal and irrigation, September 05, 2011

Fields of Gold, Harvested

Three photos of the ricefield in front of my treehouse, last February 14, 2015. Fields of gold, mature rice to be harvested about 2-3 days after. My treehouse is surrounded by tall mahogany trees, except the front area facing the rice field.

Farm caretaker Nong Endring Paragas plants rice here twice a year, the dry months (March-May), the land  is on fallow, rest. Our friend Charlie Espinosa, a local farmer, helps Nong endring till this land.

The mature rice as seen  from the 2nd floor of my treehouse.

I went back to the farm last weekend. The harvested area. Nong Endring used to have cows before, the rice straw would be consumed by the cows. He sold all his cows a few years ago as  he was getting  older. The rice straw was burned.

See also: 
Rice prices and soil conservation, March 27, 2008 
Rice Farms, July 11, 2012 
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013 
Water Impounding and Irrigation, December 05, 2013 
Maya Bird as Rice Pest, May 05, 2014

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seeds for Mankind

When I attended the "International Training Seminar on Sustainable Agriculture in an Environmental Perspective" in Sweden in 2003, we have several reading materials. Among them was "Seeds for Mankind", published by the International Seed Federation (ISF), May 2002.

(This photo from
The monograph is reader-friendly even for non-scientists. Good economic sense. For instance, its conclusion suggested that the public sector should refrain from being active in the competitive area… Governments should focus on their roles as regulators and developers of infrastructures..

Below was my summary of that good paper.

Seeds for mankind

Modern Plant Breeding
It is a two-step process: (a) creation of genetic variability, (b) selection of cultivars for specific purposes. It use the laws of heredity (discovered by Mendel, 1856) and statistics (developed by Fisher and Pearson, around 1860)

Objectives of Plant Breeding:

1. Productivity: about 30-60% of yield increases is due to genetic improvement Hardiness/Yield

2. Stability: show more adaptability than low-yielding older varieties

3. Diseases and Pest Resistance: by using existing resistance in species, and by genetic engineering

4. Biodiversity, in particular:
(a) Crop genetic diversity – bet. 6,000 to 7,000 new varieties are protectedannually in the UPOV member states,
(b) Biotape protection – preservation of places where species live

5. Product Quality, in particular:
(a) Technical quality processibility of the raw material,
(b) Food quality – ability of food to keep sensory characteristics and physical qualities under given conditions

6. Crop Management: for crop protection and minimizing soil tillage
Regional Adaptation: facilitate the introduction of new promising crops to other regions of the world.

Production and Marketing of High Quality Seed

Too often, new and better varieties released by plant breeders are not produced and commercialized to farmers.
Seed Production: maintain genetic quality, maintain seed viability and health
Seed Marketing: market research à seed promotion à seed pricing à seed distribution.

Main Actors of the Seed Chain

Basic research: both the public and private sectors
Varietal development: over the long-term, private sector should do this
Seed production, processing and marketing: private sector; govt. to improve infra, tax incentives, credit
Quality control: private seed companies with govt. supervision

See also:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clearing the Abandoned House

There was once a house on  one of the hills in the Millora Farm. It has been abandoned since the late 80s perhaps. The structure is still there but wild trees and vines have already colonized it. Our farm caretakers, Nong Endring and Danny are industrious enough to clear those invading vines and wild trees. Pictures taken last Sunday, February 15.

It is difficult to remove those thick and elaborate vines plus wild trees. A grasscutter borrowed from the barangay made the work of the two men easier.

I remember I and some friends from UP Sapul came here and we slept for one night in this house, sometime in 1983 or 84. Our good friend, Mil Millora, brought us there. Mill has passed away in a car accident in December 1986.

Two years ago, this is how the abandoned house looked. Before the clearing, the house could hardly be seen because of the thick layers of vines and  wild trees.

See also Trees Colonizing an Abandoned House, February 21, 2013 

Hoping for a Mango Harvest This Year

We have not harvested any mangos in  the farm  over the past three or four years already. The cecid fly or "kurikong manga" has been attacking many farms including ours that resulted in often complete wipe out of potential harvests.

Below, some of our mango trees in the Millora Farm. Our farm caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, was showing me the areas that they have cleaned. Pictures taken  last Sunday, February 15.

We do not spray our mangos, other people specialize in doing it. They spray for flower induction, when the flowers come out, they take care of them and spray various insecticides (leaf hoppers, fruit flies, various insects and pests) until they become small fruits and so on. Before, the sharing of the harvest was 60-40 in favor of the mango sprayer/s. Recently, with huge losses by mango sprayers, the sharing is 70-30 in favor of the sprayers. The past 3 or 4 years, the sprayers in the farm suffered heavy losses because of the kurikong manga attacks.

This year, a businessman sprayer from Central Pangasinan sprayed the mangos, 70-30 sharing. His team seems sophisticated enough to  control the cecid fly attacks. Here are the young fruits as of last Sunday. They seem plentiful. To have optimum  harvest, there should be only 3-4 fruits per "tangkay" or mini-branch. If there are 5 or more, the fruits are small as the tree will  have difficulty supplying nutrients to the fruits.

Another tree with plentiful young fruits. Soon the fruits will reach the soil as they grow heavier each day, the branches will  be supported with short posts so that the fruits will not touch the  soil and be exposed to other potential pests.

There are indicators that cecid fly have come, like these two young fruits. On the left, it has turned yellow and getting dry; on the right, there are black spots, indicator of pest attack. The other "tangkays" have lost all of their young fruits.

Nong Endring and his son Danny are very industrious in cleaning up the farm, removing tall and dry cogon and  other grasses, then burn the grasses. Grass fires occur yearly, not necessarily on the same spot.

Our two dogs accompany Nong Endring when he goes around. There are some wild snakes that are roaming around in some areas, these crawlers are scared of dogs, they quickly run away if they hear footsteps and dogs barking.

Last year, a huge grassfire from a neighboring farm crossed the boundary and burned a number of our mango trees. See the gray, dried leaves.

Another tree that was burned last year.

We really hope that we can harvest and eat mangos from the farm this year. Crossing our fingers.

See also: 
Upland mangos sweeter than lowland mangos?, June 12, 2007 
Cecid Fly or "Kurikong Manga", March 19, 2012

Denuded Uplands, Western Pangasinan

Photos below taken last January 24, 2015, from a hill of Mt. Zion, just next to our farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. More specifically, this is the hill where the 14th and last of the Stations of the Cross is erected. Below, top view is towards Lingayen Gulf and the sea. Lower two photos are towards the uplands.

The public forest land is generally denuded of big trees. Only small, regenerating trees, grasses and vines thrive here. There is annual grassfire, plus intrusion by small illegal logging for firewood, lumber and charcoal making.

Across this river is another barangay of Bugallon. I noticed there is a newly-constructed dam, it's good. It should be able to irrigate rice fields and vegetable farms below.

See also:
Denuded mountains, March 31, 2009
New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 

On Grass Fire, April 17, 2014

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My Treehouse is 11 Years Old

My treehouse is now 11 years old. Two-storey, all wood except the roof, perched on a big and live  mahogany tree. The trunk on the ground  and 2nd floor gets bigger and fatter while the roof is rising, every year.

The trees around the treehouse are getting bigger and taller too, some have been harvested already and younger trees beside them grow bigger and taller. Photos taken last January 24, 2015, by my sis in law, Baby.

Our youngest visitor from Manila, few months old Yoshi with her Mama. Below, Elle Marie.

My wife Ella, Bien, Elle, their Tita Baby and cousin Yoshi.

They walked at a nearby creek, still within the farm.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cemented Barangay Road, Near the Farm

Good news here. The barangay road going to the solid waste dumpsite/MRF (materials recovery facility) of Bugallon town in Pangasinan is slowly being cemented. This is the same road going to the farm, with a short diversion. I took these photos last Sunday, November 23, 2014. This portion is going up.

A lazy road on Sunday, free roaming chicken eating anything on the pavement. Cemented barangay roads are also used by farmers to dry their palay/rice harvest.

A small basketball court on the new road.

This part coming from Atty. Guiang's old resort area, going to a creek...

This footbridge for people and motorcycles with no sidecar will soon be removed, to be replaced by a bridge that can accommodate even huge, 10-wheeler trucks.

Another view of the creek and the footbridge. Construction  of the new bridge is said to start by January next year.  For now and in previous years, vehicles and tricycles cross this creek. When there is heavy rain  and flash flood, no vehicle can pass this creek.

Soon, even cars can enter the farm.