Friday, April 25, 2014

Sweden Seminar 2: Highly Mechanized Agriculture

Among the things that awed me in Swedish agriculture (or European agri in general), was the use of huge machineries. They have wide lands but small population and wages are very high. It is more economical to use lots of machines than people in the various phases of farm preparation, crops planting, monitoring, harvesting and hauling.

Like this huge truck, I think it is a harvester and drier at the same time. We visited a farm with about 2,200 hectares of land planted to various crops, mostly wheat and potato, and they have only about 18 workers. Even the farm owner drives one of the tractors or other heavy machineries.

Tne farmers there hardly touch the soil, the machines and tractors are reliable workers for them.

A huge tractor pulling a seed planter. Computers equally distribute the seeds dropped or planted by this red container at the back. With Trung Nguyen from Vietnam and Peter Kiyonga from Uganda.

There are also "moonlight farmers" or part-time farmers. These are people who have regular office work at day time, and they do farming when they come home, say from 6-10pm during summer. A part time farmer can be tilling around 30 hectares on average.This tractor is owned by one part time farmer.

Another tractor from another part time farmer. Usually each part time farmer has one house, one big warehouse where the harvests, some small tractors, are housed. Here with Tony Cudjoe from Ghana.

Will be posting more photos later...

Sweden Seminar 1: Field Lectures, 2003

In September to October 2003, I attended a 7-weeks seminar, "Sustainable Agriculture in an Environmental Perspective" held in Lund, Sweden. We were about 23 participants from 17 or 18 countries, mainly from Asia and Africa. The seminar was funded by Sweden International Development Agency (SIDA) and implemented by Svalof Weibull AB (SW), a biotech research and consulting company. We stayed in a hotel in Lund, then a bus would pick us up every morning and bring us to SW complex for the lectures and some field visits.

I just scanned some hard copies of our photos there. I will upload them in this blog by batches. In this batch, some of our field visits in agri farms in southern Sweden. Btway, never mind the date in the photos, it says 1987. These photos were taken sometime in September or October 2003.

Kidding with one of two North Koreans in our batch. The Koreans, they were small and thin, but I think they were sharp mentally. They were Party members of course.

These huge rolls of dried wheat straw are mixed with some chemicals and are given as cattle feeds during winter, where the grasses are covered by ice, cattle can't eat grass, and it's too cold outside. These wheat straw become their main food inside the barn.

The cattles there, they grow very fast, something like they are gaining weight of around 1.5 kilo a day.

Our program facilitators were Inger Ahman (standing, right most) and Marie Hardfors (
sitting, left most and not facing the camera).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Treehouse, Versions 2002 vs. 2014

This is the original treehouse in the farm, just a small elevated veranda perched on a lone mahogany tree. Photo taken September 2002. The mahogany trees near the treehouse were small then.

On January 2004, I decided to dismantle it, as my architect friend from UP, Clifford Espinosa, has a good design for a bigger, two-storey treehouse to be perched on the same big mahogany tree. Cliff gave that favor for free, jamming at tagay lang kapalit. Super thanks, once again, Cliff.

The house was finished around March 2004. Last March 2014 or exactly 10 years after, the house got a facelift, the decaying bamboo floor were all replaced. A few changes in the 2nd floor was introduced. The treehouse as of March 2014, below. The surrounding mahogany trees are much bigger. The really big ones have been harvested last January this year.

The small treehouse then was supported by four braces only to stabilize it. The roof was nipa.

It has no toilet then, guests (females especially) must go down (notice the small wooden stairs). Male guests can pee on the rice plants below, if they were not in the mood to go up and down the treehouse. :-) 

On the left and right sides of the treehouse then was sloping. When the new treehouse was built in 2004, the sloping sides have been terraced.

The current treehouse is heavy, there are many posts supporting it, aside from the main tree where it is perched and locked.

The old treehouse from a distance.

See also:
My Treehouse, May 2012, July 17, 2012
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013

My Treehouse, August 2013, August 21, 2014

My Treehouse, March 2014, March 30, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

On Grass Fire

Last March 27, 2014 or three weeks ago, there was a big grassfire that started from either the public forest land or our neighboring farm, Mt. Zion, and spread to our farm including the mango area. First two photos I took last March 28.

This photo I took yesterday. On the left was part of the burned area, the right side was spared. One of the guys that make charcoal in the farm, Anoling, was there to help put out the fire that day.

Grass fires occur almost yearly in many parts of the country. Forest land that were converted into agricultural or pasture land, the grass mature during the hot and dry months of March to May, can easily get burned. And grow again days after a fire. This photo is from the web.

Grass fire is the number one or number two tree killer. The other major tree killer is people. Trees generally grow on their own, aka natural regeneration of trees, until some vines choke them, or people cut them, or a grassfire would engulf them. But many local tree species would survive a grassfire, and would have new leaves weeks after a fire.

See also:
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012  
Natural Regeneration of Trees, February 21, 2013 
Trees in the Farm, Part 4, August 21, 2013

DENR Nursery in the Farm

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the Laguit Padilla Multi Purpose Cooperative (MPC) has established a nursery partly in the farm, partly in the public forest land area. They informed our caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas about this, no problem. Photos below I took yesterday.

They used different tree species -- kakawate, ipil ipil, gmelina, etc.

The DENR has been planting and planting trees in this part of Bugallon, almost every year, for about four decades now since the 70s. Mostly in the public forest land, below, and partly intruding into private lands.

The DENR and its contracted parties in the past have no sincerity in having a real forest in many parts of the country. Generally the trees just regenerate and grow on their own without human intervention. They only need to be protected from different tree killers -- vines, grass fires (occurring almost yearly) and people who steal and cut the trees for charcoal, firewood, lumber and other uses. Below, another part of the "public forest land".

But the DENRand its contracted parties chose reforestation almost yearly. The latter mainly do it for money. They get paid for planting and do little or no monitoring months after. The newly planted seedlings often die. Until another round of contracted tree planting the next year.

See also:
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 
Attempted Illegal Logging by Greedy RE Agents, February 11, 2013 

New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013

Trees in the Farm, part 2, September 06, 2012
Trees in the Farm, Part 3, February 11, 2013

Natural Regeneration of Trees, February 21, 2013
Trees in the Farm, Part 4, August 21, 2013