With the financial support from the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) partnered with the General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and Cambodian Center for Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) conducted fertilizer on-farm trials in Takeo and Prey Veng provinces. The trials conducted by RUA students within the farmers’ rice fields. Two RUA professors acted as advisors for the students. The purpose of the trials is to find out the rate of fertilizer should be applied for wet season rice production and to verify with the CARDI recommendation rate.
During the last several years, rice cultivation practices have been differently practiced by farmers such as transplanting, broadcasting, transplanting by using drumseeder , direct seeding, etc. These practices and under the affect of climate change, the fertilizer application would have changed to produce optimum rice yield. Currently, the farmers use a lot of fertilizer especially the dry season rice production, 5 to 7 bags (250 to 350 kg) per hectare. This is actually very high amount of fertilizer, which contribute to increasing production cost but reducing profit of the farmers at the same time. More importantly, it also affect to the greenhouse gas emission to the atmosphere. By this reason, the on-farm trials is conducted.
On 21 March 2014, a dialogue on fertilizer on farm trial was organized at RUA. Approximately 25 participants attended the dialogue, including chief of provincial department of agriculture from the PADEE project targeted provinces, advisors to PADEE project, students from the faculty of agronomy of RUA, etc.
Mr. Kong Kea represented of GDA provided opening remark at the beginning of the workshop. I also provided some impression before Mr. Kong Kea gave his opening remark. Then, series of presentation were conducted. I myself presented about the general concept of climate smart agriculture as well as the brief background of the CSA project that SNV has been implementing. Mr. Seak Soly, presented the overall background of the fertilizer on farm trails and then Mr. Chhoung Sophal and Mr. Sophoanrith (RUA) presented the findings from the trials in Takeo and Prey Veng provinces. The trial in Takeo was conducted with the wet season rice production using transplanting method, but the trial in Prey Veng conducted with the dry season rice production using broadcasting method.
Directors of the provincial department of agriculture in the PADEE targeted provinces, PADEE project advisors are interested to integrate on-farm trials into the PADEE project. They noticed that the on-farm trials conducted by RUA with technical support from GDA and CARDI are really useful. They also raised that PADEE has some budget available for the on-farm trials. So, it is good to further discuss the available budget.
The participants raised that more trials should be conducted by using the same protocol in order to verify and validate the initial findings. They mentioned that the findings from one cycle trial is not sufficient, the trials should be conducted at least 4-5 cycles.
In regards to the protocol design, the participants raised that trial plots should only be selected in the fields. There is no need to select trial plots in RUA station because they are not represented the exact soil type and quality in the field. The participants said that many trails in RUA station have been conducted by students, varieties of fertilizers were used that is why the soil quality is much better if compare to the soil quality in the fields. In response, RUA will only do the trails in the field (not in RUA station) for the next trials, but the number of replication will be increased from 3 to at least 4.
Talking about who will lead the future trials, the participants wanted CARDI to take the lead because CARDI is specialized and influent agency in providing recommendation on the fertilizer application rate. However, CARDI should cooperate with the provincial department of agriculture and other stakeholders to ensure that relevant stakeholders are involved in the trials process. In addition, some participants raised that SNV should work closely with CARDI and PADEE to have on-farm trails implemented in the future. Mr. Kong Kea from GDA also raised that SNV should try to mobilize resources / funds to support the future trials.
Field trials should not only focus on fertilizer application, the participants wanted various trials to be conducted such as, trial on the use of fertilizer, natural manure and combination of fertilizer and the natural manure, etc. Some other participants raised about the use of bio slurry to improve the soil fertility.