The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) collaborated with the Advanced Science Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to automate the collection and retrieval of weather data.

Through the partnership, the Philippine Real-Time Environment Data Acquisition and interpretation for Climate-Related Tragedy Prevention and Mitigation or PREDICT project—an advanced data retrieval system for weather stations—was developed.

Dr. Jasper Tallada, PhilRice consultant and engineer, said, “With climate change threats at fore, the road to smarter alternatives is the way to go.”

“Documentation of weather or climate data is significantly important to help farmers and researchers plan their activities by looking at weather patterns. This includes temperature, wind speed and direction, soil temperature and moisture, groundwater
level and temperature, solar radiation, ultraviolet index, rainfall, and other weather-related factors relevant to rice farming,” said Dr. Tallada.

According to Dr. Tallada, manual data gathering requires intensive field monitoring to ensure that weather conditions are correctly and comprehensively recorded.

“PhilRice has been collecting weather data since 1985. Retrieval of data was difficult since you have to personally go to the field and regularly record one-by-one the numerous climate parameters using various instruments. Once missed, the weather
condition that has passed at a particular time is also gone. PREDICT now automates the collection of data and stores them in a computer database 24/7 in real-time, downloadable
whenever needed,” he explained.

With the new data logging and retrieval system, researchers can just download the information through http://fmon.asti.dost.gov.ph/weather/predict/ or via text messaging. The request will be sent to the agromet stations that will automatically respond to the sender.

Tallada and Engr. Marc Jude Paul Ancheta manage 12 agromet field monitoring stations located in strategic PhilRice stations. The project, which started in 2013 under the “Coping with Climate
Change” program, maintains and monitors the activities of the agromet stations that record agro-climatic data.

“The data is useful for researchers, especially for those doing crop yield projection and other process-based production modelling. Most of our field experiments heavily rely on climatic data. The new system makes it easier for us to access the specific data we need,” Tallada said.

Initial observations on climatic curves and trends from the logger imply that the change in typhoon patterns is shifting the concentration from Luzon to Mindanao. This information alone,
Tallada said, has significant implications on rice research and agricultural production in general.

“One of our major concerns is to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. On-time and accurate availability of data will help us achieve this vision that, in one way or another, will benefit our farmers,” Tallada said.

Tallada`s team plans to strengthen its collaboration with the DOST to develop an agromet station specifically calibrated for rice research. They hope to make the data available to everyone who intends to access them.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s June 2017 issue.