One agricultural service company is promoting the mechanization of onion planting in Occidental Mindoro. This is the Agri-Tech Integrated Services Company (ATISCO) which has put up a one-hectare demo farm in San Jose to showcase what can be mechanized in growing onions. ATISCO is collaborating with WBI, a cold storage company based in Mindoro, and in coordination with the provincial agriculturist’s office..
To produce a good crop of onion, the land should be properly prepared. To achieve this, ATISCO is using a disc plow from Korea and a Fitcorea bed making machine that makes uniform planting beds that is important in managing irrigation of the onion plantation.
Dante Delima, former Undersecretary of Agriculture who is the operations manager of ATISCO, says that the supply of irrigation water should uniformly soak the planting beds. The beds should be of the same level and the irrigation canal should be made in such a way that the end should be just a little bit lower than the entrance.
The Fitcorea bed maker makes the beds fast and it is also much cheaper than the usual method employed by most onion growers. In 10 hours, the beds in one hectare can be finished by the machine. This costs only about P4,000. On the other hand, when the farmer’s practice is used, it will take two days to prepare the beds and the cost could amount to P6,000, according to Delima.
DIRECT SEEDER – One interesting equipment being introduced by ATISCO is an onion direct-seeder developed by the Agri-Techno Yazaki of Japan. By the way, ATISCO is a subsidiary of Yazaki Torres Corporation which is affiliated with Yazaki of Japan.
The ATISCO direct seeder is manually operated. It does not have any engine to run it. The seeder precisely dispenses just one seed per hill about 5 cm apart. In one passing, the seeder plants the seeds in two rows. The planting bed is 70 cm wide and it needs two passes of the direct seeder.
Delima explains that because the seeder dispenses just one seed at a time, much less seeds are required when compared to manual direct seeding which often plants more than one seed per hill. Under current farmers’ practice, usually 10 cans of seeds are needed to plant one hectare. On the other hand, only six cans are needed with the ATISCO seeder.
This means a significant saving, according to Delima, because one can of hybrid seed usually costs P4,000 per can. Therefore, the farmer can save P16,000 worth of seeds per hectare with the direct seeding machine.
Also, the direct seeder accomplishes the job faster. Two direct seeders will be able to seed one hectare in one day. On the other hand, 10 people working for two days will finish seeding one hectare. The farmer also saves on labor because only two men with their machines are needed to plant one hectare.
By the way, ATISCO is now providing their services to farmers who have planted 50 hectares this season that will soon be harvested. The services include land preparation, making of planting beds, and direct seeding. Later, when the crops will be harvested, ATISCO will also demonstrate the use of an onion harvesting machine from Korea.
ATISCO is really searching for ways to make the onion growers more competitive not only in production but also in marketing heir harvest. As of now, Delima said, a marketing company, Phil Vieba, will be buying the farmers’ harvest.
By the way, ATISCO is also promoting mechanization in rice production. It has facilities in Oriental Mindoro where it has tractors for land preparation, rice transplanting machines as well as combine harvesters and other postharvest facilities. It also has efficient compact rice mills from Fitcorea.