NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE

NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE

When the word “nuclear” is in the newspapers, it is usually about the aborted Bataan Nuclear Plant for which we are paying a big sum to this day. Very rarely do we read about the benefits that nuclear science and technology contributes to agriculture.

Well, people will have a chance to appreciate the value of nuclear science in agriculture and other fields such as industry, medicine and environment when the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute will open its doors on December 5 to 9, 2016. That’s when PNRI-DOST will celebrate the 44th Atomic Energy Week.

NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE
Riceplants treated with CPGR produce longer panicles with heavier grains.

During the five-day celebration, the agency will feature the latest advances in nuclear science and technology, focusing on the theme “Teknolohiyang Nukleyar para sa Kaunlaran ni Juan.”

The Institute will provide free guided tours to the exhibits and selected PNRI facilities and laboratories to students, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and the public . Experts will give presentations during the technical sessions on the beneficial applications of nuclear science and technology on December 5 and 6.

NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE
Rice plants treated with CPGR at left look much better than the untreated plants at right in a demo farm in Bulacan.

The Philippine Nuclear Youth Summit (PNYS) will be held on December 7. This will serve as a forum for the youth to share information and knowledge and offer high school and college students as well as young professionals a voice in the future and inspire them to pursue a career in nuclear science.

Speaking of beneficial applications in agriculture, the latest we know is that carrageenan extracted from seaweed and further degraded into minute particles through irradiation has been proven to boost rice yields from 15 to 30 percent. This was observed in multi-location trials in Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Iloilo.

The product called Carrageenan Plant Growth Regulator (CPGR) has been observed to produce more tillers. It also makes the stems stronger, hence more resistant to lodging. It also promotes resistance to tungro virus and bacterial leaf blight.

Years earlier, PNRI scientists were also able to produce new rice varieties with desirable characteristics like having higher yields, resistance to pests and diseases, and other desirable traits. These varieties have been turned over to PhilRice and are probably mong those that they are using for breeding new rice varieties.

NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE
A few years back, Dr. Benito S. Vergara was able to produce seedless calamansi by irradiating the budsticks used in grafting and budding.

SEEDLESS CALAMANSI – The late national scientist Dr. Benito S. Vergara was able to produce seedless or almost seedless calamansi by irradiating the budsticks he used for budding and grafting.

STERILE FRUITFLIES – We also remember the time when PNRI produced millions of male fruitflies which were irradiated to make them sterile. These were released in the mango plantations in Guimaras Island so they would mate with the female fruitflies there, resulting in eggs that never hatched.

ORNAMENTAL PLANTS – irradiation is also used to produce mutant ornamental plants. Just like the dwarf kamuning which was about the first ornamental mutant produced by PNRI. Plants that are only two or three inches tall are already fruiting and are considered curiosity plants. The same can be made into bonsai or cultured into full-grown plants that are dwarf.

NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE
Sansevierias can be propagated by planting the leaves. Irradiated leaves can produce new forms in terms of color, size and shape.

Today, Boyet Ganigan and Dr. Jay Silvestre are producing mutants through irradiation. Among the remarkable ones they have produced are the green asplenium (pakpak lawin) and lots of mutant Sansevierias. By irradiating the spores of the asplenium, they have produced plants with golden leaves. When they irradiated spores of polypodium they produced plants with leaves that have more branches.

In the case of Sansevieria (often called Espada or mother-in-law’s tongue), they irradiated the leaves of different varieties and were able to produce new colors and forms. You can see some of them in their exhibit at the PNRI during the observance of the 44th Atomic Energy Week at the Institute’s headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City on December 5 to 9, 2016.

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2 thoughts on “NUCLEAR TECH IS IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE

  1. Hi Mr. Zac,

    Sir, available na po ba sa market itong Carageenan plant growth regulator CPGR (for rice farming)? Marami na po kasi akong nabasang agri articles about dito kaya lang wala pong link or contact for commercial access. Saan po kaya available ito?

    Thanks po in advace.

    Norman

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