LWD shows water sampling analysis in Syensaya 2014

with reports from Vhernadette A. Oracion and Stephanie Pearl DP Orendain
The Laguna Water District (LWD) showcased the water-testing process in water facilities that ensure the quality of water in Los Banos. The process was available for observation on the first day of the Syensaya, an annual science festival held at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) campus.
Water testing is regularly conducted to test for bacteria in common water sources, such as deep wells.
Microbiologist Alma Grace Velasquez used three water samples to demonstrate the water testing process. Of the three samples, two tested positive for coliform and E. coli, common disease-causing bacteria. Among the diseases brought by these organisms is diarrhea.The Colilert-18 Test is used to test water samples in Laguna. Colilert-18 reacts with the enzymes present in the two types of bacteria and will turn the water yellow if coliforms are present. However, for samples with E. coli, the water will turn blue if observed under the UV light.

“Hindi naman nagpa-positive sa coli forms at E. coli ang tubig dito [sa Laguna],” Velasquez assured. However, when during outbreaks involving coliforms and E. coli, the LWD increase the dosage of the disinfectant chlorine dioxide as counter measure.

Reviving the tree of life: PCAARRD lays plan for coco industry revitalization

by John Paul Omac

Heralded as the “tree of life”, coconuts were considered the lifeblood of Philippine agriculture, topping the list of Philippine agricultural products for export. However, with the devastation brought by coconut scale insects (CSI) and other natural factors, such as the recent typhoon Glenda, the coconut industry is steadily losing its vitality.

Scientists are continuously developing innovations which can help revitalize the Philippine coconut industry, as highlighted by the exhibit of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) in the 7th Syensaya, September 10-12, at the Copeland Gymnasium, University of the Philippines Los Baños.

The exhibit presented the Industry Strategic S &T Plan (ISP) for coconuts which hopes to address the major issues and concerns of the coconut industry through the use of S & T innovations.

According to Ervin Naval, science research analyst of PCAARRD, the aim of the ISP for coconuts is to increase palm production and reduce losses due to pest.

“This will lead to the increase not just the farmers’ income but the whole industry as well,” Naval added.

Currently, the coconut palm covers most of the landscape in the 68 out of the country’s 79 provinces, with more than 3.4 million farmers directly relying on it.

However, the national average yield hangs at 46 nuts/tree a year—way below the global benchmark of 120/nuts a year.

The dwindling productivity of coconuts, among other factors ultimately makes Coconut farmers one of the most marginalized in the agricultural sector.

About 96% of coconut farmers are considered non-bankable by corporate banking sector, preventing them from borrowing capital they can use to improve their farms.

Through the Coconut ISP, PCAARRD, in partnership with Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) drafted a timeline spanning from 2013 to 2015 which contains their actions and expected outcomes.

Primarily, they employ genomics—the sequencing and rearranging of DNA to improve desired traits such as high nut yield, high oil yield, pest resistance, and drought resistance.

By 2015, they aim to increase the yield of coconuts from 46/nuts a year to 100/nuts a year.

Naval also said that if plans materialize by 2015, they would have reduced yield losses by up to 13.8 million nuts.

“The reduce yield losses and other innovations to develop high value products like cocosap, cocosugar, and others would lead to a 44% increase in income of the farmers,”he added.

Aside from Coconut, PCAARRD also showcases their innovations for banana, mango, and tilapia.

In the end, they envision the Philippine agri-fisheries industry to be “smarter and more sustainable” through scientific innovations.

“Kaibigang bulate” reaches out to kids: BPI-LBNCRDC brings the African Night Crawler to SyenSaya 2014

by Bea Elisha Apa-ap and Toni Krizia Vivares

The Bureau of Plant Industry Los Baños National Crop Research and Development Center (BPI-LBNCRDC) introduced the earthworm Eudrilus euginae or the African Night Crawler to students visiting their SyenSaya booth on September 10, 2014.

The visitors were mostly elementary and high school students who crowded at the booth of BPI-LBNCRDC to see and touch the earthworms encased in a small glass case as the exhibitors explained and gave out leaflets about vermiculture and vermicomposting. Vermiculture is the production of earthworms while the vermicomposting is the production of quality organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

Eugenia Buctuanon explained that vermicompost is a first-class fertitizer because it gives the soil higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Vermicompost also enhances the growth of plants and prolongs plantlife.

Buctuanon further explained that the technology of vermicomposting is environmental friendly and can be adopted by families in their homes to eliminate a huge bulk of household biogdegradable wastes.

Using the term “kaibigang bulate,” research assistant Melinda Mondenogo encouraged the children to hold the African night crawler while telling them that farm wastes are still helpful when converted to farm by-products like animal feed and organic fertilizer.

Bianca Looise Marie, 10, screamed when she was asked to hold the worm, but with Mondenogo’s encouragement, she enjoyed the feel of the animal on her hands.

Mondenego said, “Malamig [yung bulate], lalo na kapag gumagapang sa kamay kasi sa malamig din syang environment nag go grow. Minsan kasi natatakot ang mga bata kapag nakikita pa lang nila. So pinapaliwanag natin na ito ay kaibigang bulate, na hindi naman sila masama, at ginamit ito para sa organic farming.”

The earthworms are used in vermicomposting as organic fertilizer. “Iyan yung ginagamit sa vermocompo. Kasi, yung mga farm waste imbis na itapon na lang natin, maganda na gamitin na lang natin. Base sa results ng experiments natin mas marami yung nutrients ng soil kumpara sa inorganically fertilized,” she added.

Eggpplant, cabbage, cauliflower , tomato, onion, cucumber, pole, sitao, and okra exhibit outstanding growth because of this earthworm. Grasses and kakawete leaves fertilized by vermicompost contained nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, pH(7.20), magnesium, manganese, copper, and zink.

Mondenego said that this earthworm could be housed on a rectangular box with plastic sheet for a floor and placed in a shaded area. They can be fed sawdust which are said to be best in earthworm production. She also stressed that many farmers are already producing vermicompost. “Simula nung na generate ang technology, marami ng farmers ang gumagamit. Mabilis lang din silang i-produce.”

The starting capital is Php 500 for 1,000 pieces and Php 360 per wombin. 220 kilos of vermicompost and 30000 earthworms are produced in six months.

Technology Forum: “Handa KNB sa oras ng kalamidad?”

with reports from Kimberly Salamatin,  Arron Lucius Herbon and Christian Rieza

A technology forum was held at the New College of Arts and Sciences auditorium of the University of the Philippines Los Banos on September 11 during the Syensaya science festival for the benefit of barangay officials, municipal government staff, students, and other community stakeholders.

The activity aimed to disseminate information regarding calamities, as well as necessary preparations and response during calamities.

This year’s forum focused on calamity in light of the recent experience with typhoon Glenda that affected many parts of the country and caused heavy damage to property particularly in Los Banos.

Dr. Primo Garcia, chair of the Techno Forum Committee 2014, said that the forum is very timely because the affected people and communities find disaster preparedness relevant and necessary.

Maraming naapektuhan noong Bagyong Glenda noong July, particularly sa UP Los Baños. Napapanahon po talaga ang topic natin at napag-isapan ng LBSCFI (Los Baños Science Community Foundation Inc. ) [na] ipamahagi sa mas malawak na audience ang mga isyu at mga kaalaman ukol sa disaster risk management,” Dr. Garcia said.

Barangay officials are the primary target of the techno forum because of their capability to effectively communicate information to their respective constituencies.

“Mas madali kasi kapag barangay officials ang nakakaalam kasi pwede silang magkaroon ng sarili nilang seminars at maituro nila ang mga natutunan nila sa kanilang nasasakupan,” Garcia added.

The forum featured Ms. Bernadeth Lucillo, chief meteorological officer at the National Agromet Station of PAGASA – UPLB, who lectured on the Hydrometeorological profile of Los Baños, Laguna.

The Philippine Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010 was also discussed by Mr. Elvis Cruz, assistant regional director of the Office of Civil Defense of Region IV-A. The talk emphasized the importance of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management (NDRRM) plan in responding, recovering, and in the rehabilitation process concerning disasters and calamities.

“NDRRM is everybody’s concern. We can minimize disaster risk by becoming more responsible citizens even in our little own ways by getting involved in the NDRRM efforts of the government,” Cruz stressed.

Finally, Mr. Martin Q. Imatong, LGU Disaster Risk Reduction Management consultant, delivered a lecture on the possible disasters that could be experienced by the Los Baños community such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, and typhoons. Mr. Imatong discussed on the precautionary measures that could be done by the community people for disaster preparedness.

The participants found the forum interesting and informative. However, according to Eng. Ruel Tanqueco, one of the participants, it would have been better had they been given materials or visual aids for reference during the discussion and for future use.

The forum was organized by LBSCFI in cooperation with its partner organizations namely: Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU), Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration (OVCA), Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA), Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP)-Laguna, Department of Education (DepEd), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The techno forum started several years ago to showcase technological advances to the people. It focuses on agriculture, water technology, and other innovations that benefit the local community.

IPB joins Syensaya 2014

with reports from Therese Marie L. Quilnat

The Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) showcases its scientific technologies on the second day of the annual science fair Syensaya with the theme “Los Baños Science Community: Supporting the Nation in Meeting Global Challenges.”

The IPB exhibit focused on corn grits, organic seeds, and hydroponics.

Corn grits or milled white corn is being promoted for mixing with or as an alternative to rice, according to Meg Grulla from IPB. Compared to white rice, corn grits are healthier and a better source of protein. It is also heavier in the stomach, making the consumers reach satiety faster, and also very cheap because a kilo of corn grits can be purchased for only 30 pesos at the IPB booth.

Organic seeds. exhibited by the IPB undergone open pollination, which is pollination by natural mechanisms, and were not cross-pollinated to ensure the preservation of desirable characteristics and traits, such as crop yield and quality of produce, across generations. Carefully packed seeds of okra, cucumber, white squash (upo), squash, and other vegetable seeds were sold for 40 pesos per pack.

Simple nutrient addition program (SNAP) of the IPB refers to hydroponics or soil-less farming which entails transferring a week-old plant to the nutrient-enriched hydroponics setup. Plants should be at least a week old to ensure germination and the nutrient-absorption capability of the roots.

The nutrient solution is made by mixing one cup each of SNAP A and SNAP B solution with ten liters of water. The solution has been formulated to provide all the nutrients the plant needs for proper growth, even in the absence of soil. This way of farming is proving to be beneficial and ideal for urban locations, where ample land area for planting is scarce.

For more information on IPB’s products, inquire at the IPB booth which is open until tomorrow September 12, 2014 from 8 am to 5 pm.

CINTERLABS showcases 3D avatar-based virtual environment program

by Angelica P. Cenizal

The Computational Interdisciplinary Research Laboratories (Cinterlabs) of the Institute of Computer Science, University of the Philippines (UPLB) Los Baños participates in SyenSaya 2014  through an exhibit that showcases a 3D avatar-based virtual environment.

The project creates a virtual UPLB campus which can be used for a virtual campus tour. The application makes possible navigating through the buildings, feeling the environment, and having a glimpse of the university.

It can also be used as a virtual classroom. Students can create their own avatar and, as long as they are connected to the website or to the same network of the application, they can see other avatars as if in a classroom setup. They can also interact with one another through chat and voice, and do simple gestures such as raising their hands. The users are also allowed to upload files.

This project, however, is still in its beta phase. Not all buildings in the campus are ready for navigation yet, as the developers have only finished the buildings for the Main Library, Student Union, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), CAS Annexes 1 & 2, Institute of Physical Sciences, and Institute of Biological Sciences.

There’s no definite date on when this program will go live.