Right amount of nitrogen fertilizer for rice can now be generated through a free android application developed by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice).
Derived from a four-stripped handy “ruler” called Leaf Color Chart (LCC), the PhilRice Leaf Color Computing Application (PhilRice LCC App), which can assess nitrogen status of the rice plant, is now available on Google Play Store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ph.gov.philrice.lcc )
Designed for farmers, extension workers, researchers, and students, the mobile app generates nitrogen recommendations in just under a minute based on the digital images of intact rice leaves photographed directly from the field.
Ailon Oliver Capistrano, PhilRice senior researcher, said that app users only need to lay down the topmost, fully expanded rice leaf on smartphone’s front camera to capture its image with the surrounding light as source of luminance.
According to him, nitrogen levels of rice plants can be measured from a digital photo of its leaves, which is strongly correlated with actual leaf nitrogen concentrations.
“The app measures the intensity of green color based on the captured leaf images and converts this into values correlated with the amount of nitrogen in the leaf,” he explained.
Different camera-types are normally installed in smartphones with variations in terms of resolution. The research team found that regardless of brand, smartphone cameras will deliver an almost similar reading at 5MP. This means that app users can install the app even in an inexpensive smartphone brand and benefit from its function.
“The app is more accurate than the LCC as it eliminates subjective perception of users, which is prone to variation or errors. The app is also handy for new users or adopters who have no training or experience in the use of the manual LCC,” Capistrano said.
Meanwhile, Dr.Karen Eloisa Barroga, PhilRice deputy executive director for development, said the app is useful for farmers who often apply too much nitrogen especially during wet season, which results in pest infestation.
“Many farmers are now online. They also have their children to assist them. I’m sure that the LCC app will quickly find its way to them to guide them in the accurate application of nitrogen,” Barroga said.
January-April 2020 data of the DA-PhilRice Facebook page showed that 75% of its clients are farmers who frequently use the Messenger. The rest are students, extensions workers, and researchers.
Recommendations derived from the LCC app will be showcased in field demonstration while farmers engaged through Facebook will be encouraged to download the LCC app.
Recently, Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced that the department will harness state-of-the-art tools, systems and technologies to modernize and industrialize Philippine agriculture to ensure food supply.
“By digitalizing agriculture, our farmers and fishers can achieve bigger yields of higher quality products, at a more cost-efficient and sustainable manner,” he said.