How we work
WateRice works closely with decision-makers and implementers of water governance, local government units, agriculture extension workers, and the farmers for introduction and testing of decision support tools and best management practices for rice cultivation.
The project focuses on six thematic areas. These themes or work packages (WP) are designed to work cross thematically and complement the programs of the Philippine Department of Agriculture.
Understanding key knowledge gaps
In collaboration with stakeholders, the project assesses existing agricultural practices to identify key knowledge gaps and overlaps that hinders mobilization and adoption of technologies. Assessment is done through key informant interviews (KIIs), focus group discussions (FGDs), stakeholder mapping, and recall surveys. Results of this assessment is used to recommend appropriate and needs-responsive solutions that will help improve yield, reduce risk, minimize labor and resource input, and boost profitability in both irrigated and rainfed environments.
The WateRice project focuses on the automation of irrigation schedules by developing AutoMonPH, a cost-efficient, Internet of Things (IoT)-based decision support tool. In partnership with PhilRice, TechAguru Inc, and FreakLabs Inc., IRRI developed a tool that provides farmers with real-time field monitoring of water level and irrigation systems. It records the water level and transmits this data to a server that will automatically send a text message to the farmer, the water-user association leader, or the irrigation resources technician. This informs the stakeholders on the schedule of irrigation. It will also alert them on the water level status/ threshold of rice fields for their appropriate action.
Decision framework for introducing AWD at landscape scale
In irrigated areas, the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) water management technology can save up to 30% of water without yield loss. The technology has other benefits, including reduction of methane emission from rice fields. However, it’s adoption has been limited to plot scale.
AutoMonPH, an AWD with a real-time monitoring component, will be pilot-tested in selected communities of irrigators associations, farmers associations, and small water irrigation systems associations (SWISA). The project is testing adaptive models on the dissemination of AWD with AutoMonPH among these pilot communities, including the development of a decision framework for its adoption. Results will also be used for computation of environmental footprints using appropriate GHG estimation models. Training activities will be conducted on the use of AutoMonPH in the implementation of AWD among stakeholders from Small Scale Irrigation System (SSIS), National Irrigation System (NIS), and Communal Irrigation System (CIS).
Best management practices for rainfed environments
The WateRice project provides solutions to the challenges of rainfed lowland farmers both in favorable and unfavorable environments.
The project conducts focus group discussions in selected areas and with representative farmers to assess and evaluate their current practices, challenges and needs. Data and responses collected will be used to develop and recommend appropriate best management practices (BMPs) suitable for farmers’ location and needs. These BMPs will be introduced to the rainfed farmers through field testing and field demonstrations. It will be showcased for adoption and integration to existing farmers’ practices within the project sites.
The project will also introduce technology-based farming solutions developed by IRRI such as:
- Rice Crop Manager - a computer- and mobile phone-based application that provides farmers with advice on crop management matching their particular farming conditions and needs
- Advanced rice varieties with higher yielding capacity and ability to withstand environmental stresses such as drought and flooding
The project introduces mechanization to improve water-use efficiency and increase yield and productivity. Machineries such as laser land leveling and machine transplanting have been introduced, along with capacity-building initiatives, to increase awareness on the advantages and benefits of mechanization.
Staggered planting, one of the big challenges in community water management, is addressed by synchronizing planting time using a mechanized crop establishment method such as machine transplanting and seed drill. Similarly, the laser levelling is well known for achieving higher levels of accuracy in land leveling and offers great potential for water savings and higher grain yields.
Weeds are serious hindrances in the successful implementation of water-saving technologies (e.g., AWD) and labor-saving approaches (e.g., direct seeding rice).
The project develops weed management approaches for both rainfed and irrigated environments. It works on:
- developing, testing, and verifying a weed management decision support tool. This module which contains weed management recommendations will be disseminated through Rice Crop Manager. It can also be used as a standalone ICT-based decision support tool;
- Developing management strategies for emerging problematic weed species;
- Developing an electronic guide for extension personnel and input dealers on accurate weed control recommendations based on the weed flora present in farmers’ fields;
- Developing outreach and experiential training modules and capacity building on Integrated Weed Management (IWD).