Dr. Virginia M. Padilla, the inventor of Nutrio®, is a retired and former University Researcher of the National Institutes of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), University of the Philippines Los Baños. Nutrio® is a bio-fertilizer that uses endophytic bacterial inoculants which promote nitrogen fixation and production of plant growth promoting hormones. The technology is a foliar spray bio-fertilizer in powdered form suspended in water and is directly sprayed on the leaves and above ground parts of the growing plants. The technology was developed by her while working with the University. Her research was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) in order to increase farm productivity of eggplant and sugarcane, despite the continued increase in cost and excessive use of inorganic fertilizers.
Bio-fertilizers are gaining recognition in the Philippine market because of the environmental concern caused by the extensive and detrimental effects of several decades using inorganic fertilizer. The use of bio-fertilizers was among the key component of organic agriculture in the country to reduce soil degradation and significant loss of soil fertility. Nutrio®, a relatively new bio-fertilizer in the market not only lessens the amount of agrochemicals use in the plantations, it also allows for higher yield with lower cost. As bio-fertilizer, Nutrio® makes use of micro-organisms that improves the ability of plants to assimilate nutrients. The lessened use of agrochemicals helps the field keep its nutrients and slows down soil degradation and ground water contamination. The product is currently being sold in 100 grams per pack. The product is sprayed into the plants at 2 months and 4 months after planting. A 100-gram pack is good for 50 liters of water or 3 knapsack sprayer loads of 16 liters each.
Sugarcane production in the country requires huge amount of inorganic fertilizers based on the general recommendation of 200 kg N, 200 kg P and 600 kg K. Nutrio® is not specific solely for organic farming but serves as a supplement to inorganic fertilizer. As a supplement it reduces the requirement for inorganic fertilizer and at the same time increases yield.
RESULTS OF EXPERIMENT IN FLORIDABLANCA, PAMPANGA
Figure 1 shows the growth of sugarcane at 4 months after fertilization. It is very apparent that those plants applied with either half or full rate of inorganic fertilizer + Nutrio have deeper green color as compared with no inoculation of Nutrio®. High number of millable stalks per hectare was obtained when sugarcane plants were fertilized with ½ RRF + Nutrio equivalent to 87,000 stalks per hectare.
Although the sugarcane yield (Tc/ha) when fertilized with 200 kg N/ha is higher than the yield obtained with 100 kg Nha + Nutrio®, the sugar yield (Lkg/Tcane) showed otherwise (Table 1). In addition, the total sugar yield (262.6 Lkg/ha) using 200 kg N/ha is comparable to the yield obtained using only 100 kg N/ha + Nutrio® (261.9 Lkg/ha) corresponding to a 50% reduction of inorganic fertilizer use.
FARMER’S EXPERIENCE WITH NUTRIO IN BUKIDNON, MINDANAO
Figure 2 shows Mr. Celso Lahoylahoy (inset), a retired seaman who decided to grow sugarcane at his hometown in Don Carlos, Bukidnon in exchange of having a lucrative job overseas. He started sugarcane farming in 2006 and during that year got a yield of 96 Lkg/ha. He was very satisfied with it and planted again the following year but his yields started to go down until 2017. So he consulted a friend and mentor from PHILSURIN and was advised to use Nutrio. So he immediately purchased Nutrio® upon learning that it is a product of BIOTECH, at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. In 2017 his sugarcane using inorganic fertilizer without Nutrio®, averaged 69 ton cane/ha and a sugar yield of 1.80 Lkg/Tc with a total of 124.2 Lkg/ha. In 2018, using his previous inorganic rate of fertilization + Nutrio®, he obtained yields of 95 Ton cane/ha, 2.23 Lkg/Tcane and 211.85 Lkg/ha. In another area, his sugarcane planted late in the season (June 2018) with Nutrio®, was severely affected by drought so he was forced to harvest in 9 months time after planting. He still got a yield of 61.67 Ton cane/ha with 2.16 Lkg/Tc while his neighboring field of approximately 5 hectares was not able to harvest anything due to the effect of drought.