A farmer in Brgy. Pandan, Castilla, Sorsogon used available materials in his house in assembling a plastic drum seeder – a machine that plants rice.
With the rising cost of rice production, Ernesto Apuli improvised the drum seeder through wheels from an old bike and metal frames from an old jeepney.
Apuli learned about the machine in a technical briefing conducted by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice).
“My daughter instructed me to attend the briefing. I learned about DA-PhilRice-promoted technologies including the drumseeder. I told myself that one day, I will be using this machine,” said Apuli, also a participant in the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Seed-Program, which provided him with free certified inbred seeds.
The former seafarer related that the scarcity in labor and high cost of hiring farm laborers totaling about PhP8,000/ha during planting season motivated him to try the two-wheeled lightweight machine. However, the machine is unavailable in their area.
As a solution, he fabricated the plastic drum seeder based on the machine’s videos and brochures he gathered from the internet and DA-PhilRice, costing him around P4,500. The machine is currently priced around PhP10,000-P12,000.
“This machine from scrap is benefitting us farmers in Pandan. We only need 2-3 farm workers to plant a hectare compared with the traditional manual transplanting that requires 15-17 laborers. It’s faster and cheaper!” Apuli, who also rents out the machine to his fellow farmers, said.
Farmers in Zambales also tried the plastic drum seeder for the first time. In a farmers’ field day and forum, farmer Juanito Medida said he likes the machine’s precise depth and spacing.
With the use of drum seeder, rice grains are seeded in straight rows allowing mechanical weeding in between rows. It also helps save 50-80% seeds over broadcast seeding. It only uses 40-60kg/ha of seeds while usual farmers’ practice applies 120kg/ha.