After successfully introducing their new fertilizer mix for rice to farmers in the Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley regions, Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC) technologists moved to the Southern Luzon provinces of Quezon, Marinduque, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur, where they held commercial trials in the fields of local farmer-cooperators.

By Tony A. Rodriguez

The fertilizer mix—a new crop care product from ABC—Verno Foliar Granules contains nutrients that help rice plants efficiently manufacture the food they need, especially during their vegetative, reproductive, and early ripening stages of growth. Verno’s main components are copper—for making rice plants greener and more vigorous, and for enhancing grain-filling in every panicle—and zinc, which promotes more vigorous growth of the roots for better water and nutrient uptake while helping to bring about early grain maturity and increase the number of grains per panicle.

The combined copper and zinc result in better yields and effectively corrects deficiencies of the two minerals in rice fields.

Alberto Custodio of Barangay Santol in Mauban, Quezon; shows his hybrid rice plants fertilized with Verno (in his left hand) and those that were grown without the use of the fertilizer mix (in his right).

Verno also contains 2.2 percent calcium, which helps the plants’ good growth and strengthens their resistance to stresses, and 1.8% magnesium, to help the plants manufacture their food well. The product’s micronized particles allow for easier absorption by the plants, thus ensuring faster efficacy, and for extended retention on the plant surfaces due to their size, which prevents them from being washed off by rain.

The Institute for Marketology of Switzerland and the Organic Materials Review Institute of the United States certify Verno for organic farming. For best results, users apply it by mixing 50 grams of the granules in 16 liters of water and spraying the mixture at 14 to 21 days after transplanting (DAT) for the first application, and at 45-50 DAT for the second.

In applying Verno with urea, users mix 500 grams of it with the fertilizer and apply at 0-7 DAT for the first application and at 21-28 DAT for the second. Subsequent applications with the Verno-urea mix depend on when the farmer repeats sidedressing the field again.

ABC’s Southern Luzon sorties enlisted farmer-cooperators in the provinces of Quezon (Alberto Custodio of Barangay Santol in Mauban), Marinduque (Roel Molato Labog of Brgy. Sawi in Boac), Camarines Norte (Gil Del Bario of Brgy. Bagtas, Basud), and Camarines Sur (Juancho Cepriaso of Brgy. Ayugan, Ocampo; Eddie Doro of Brgy. Taririk, Minalabac; and Malvin Valiente of Brgy. Old San Roque, Pili) to test Verno in their ricefields under the ABC technologists’ guidance.

The cooperators’ average additional input cost per hectare (ha) while using Verno was R1,339. Their average yield increase that resulted from using the fertilizer mix was 1,273 kilograms (kg)/ ha. Custodio spent the most for Verno at R1,840/ha, though he also attained the highest yield increment at 2,400 kg/ha.

Labog’s additional cost of inputs/ha with Verno was Php1,675. His yield increment per ha was only 792 kg because he planted certified seeds in his rainfed field. In comparison, Valiente spent only an additional R920/ha for Verno but his yield increase was 1,457 kg/ha because he planted a hybrid rice variety in his irrigated field.

Roel Labog of Brgy. Sawi in Boac, Marinduque shows his hybrid rice plants fertilized with Verno (in his left hand) and those that were grown without the use of the fertilizer mix (in his right).

Del Bario tried Verno in 5,000 square meters (sq. m) of his two-hectare field. He mixed a 250-gram pack of Verno with 50 kg of urea (46-0-0) at 10 to 15 DAT in only one application. He used to harvest 200 cavans from his two hectares but got 65 cavans from the half-hectare applied with Verno, so he decided to use the fertilizer mix in all of his two-hectare spread. He has begun encouraging his friends and neighbors to try using Verno in their fields.

Doro tried Verno in 2,000 sq. m. of his field. He sprayed his crop with it at 15, 30, and 45 DAT. Without the fertilizer mix, he used to harvest only from 22 to 24 cavans from 2,000 sq. m. With Verno, he harvested 30 cavans from the same area, so he continued using the fertilizer mix from ABC.

As with the farmers in Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley who tried Verno. the South Luzon cooperators of ABC found that the fertilizer mix was effective in increasing palay yields because it resulted in more vigorously-developed roots and sturdier, more uniform plants. Verno increases the number of productive tillers per plant and the plants’ number of grains per panicle.

Verno also boosts the percentage of filled grains in the panicles and, overall, thus increases the number of grains produced by each plant. The farmers have a term for every aspect of Verno’s results: siksik (packed full). They say their roots, productive tillers, panicles and grains, and eventually, their pockets and wallets, are all siksik.

With about a hundred farmers witnessing or hearing about the results of the Verno trials in the four South Luzon provinces, close to a thousand rice farmers in Luzon may now be using or are about to use Verno on their crops. Foremost of these are the members of the more than 2,000-strong Tibig Agrarian Reform Community Cluster Association of Bataan Province, a federation of 13 cooperatives in Balanga City and the towns of Abucay, Dinalupihan, Morong, and Pilar, who were among the first to hear about the fertilizer mix that is proving to be the effective yield booster that it is.

Malvin Valiente of Brgy. Old San Roque, Pili, Camarines Sur shows his hybrid rice plants fertilized with Verno (in his left hand) and those that were grown without the use of the fertilizer mix (in his right).

ABC president Michael Caballes hopes that more rice farmers throughout the country will learn about the benefits that the Verno technology gives in improving their yields, profitability and income. “This product is of high quality and comes from a highly-reliable supplier—Nordox AS of Norway—which has been ABC’s partner for 20 years,” he said. “As our trials with our farmer-cooperators have clearly shown, widespread Verno use will positively impact our rice production.”

Verno is a product of Nordox AS of Norway, the world’s leading producer of high-quality cuprous oxide for use in agrochemicals, and the manufacturer of Nordox 50WP and Nordox 75WP, which are the only copper fungicides in the Philippine market that contain cuprous oxide as an active ingredient. The two Nordox variants are the crop protection products that many rice, fruit tree, and vegetable farmers—particularly tomato growers—throughout the country have come to depend on and widely use in their fields.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2015 issue.