Radiation-modified seaweed extract boosts rice production
Irradiated carrageenan increases rice production by up to 30 percent if applied at low concentrations.
This was the result of field tests done by the agriculture and science departments on using irradiated carrageenan as plant regulator in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Laguna and Iloilo regions since late last year.
In a trial done in Bulacan, adding 20 ml per liter of the irradiated seaweed extract to 3-6 bags of chemical fertilizer per hectare increased rice grain weight by 65.4 percent. Length of rice flowers also increased from 3.5 percent to 12.5 percent.
Carrageenan makes the rice stem stronger and improves resistance to lodging, the rice tungro virus and bacterial blight.
It is also environment friendly since it does not harm beneficial insects.
Early this year, Science Secretary Mario Montejo and Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Edilberto Luna distributed carrageenan plant regulators to 650 farmers in Pulilan, Bulacan for testing in 2,000 hectares of rice fields in Bulacan.
Almost 8 tons of irradiated carrageenan had been produced by DOST’s Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) for testing.
DOST also approved a counterpart project under semi-commercial testing by the PNRI in the regions.