Mechanized Postharvest System Preserves Seed Quality
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) found in a study that using a mechanized harvesting, handling, and drying system in breeder seed production lessens labor and risk of seed contamination.
Led by Engr. Ricardo Orge, the researchers harvested, threshed and bagged breeder seeds in special jute sacks using mini-combine, a machine designed by PhilRice with harvesting, reaping and threshing functions. Then they transported the filled sacks to the drying area with a trailer and dried the seeds while inside the sacks.
“[In this mechanized postharvest system,] it would only take 9-10 hours from harvesting up to the time the seeds are dried to final moisture content of 12 percent. [But in the conventional method], it would take 27 hours per hectare,” says Engr. John Eric Abon who is one of the proponents of the study.
In the system also, adds Abon, “drying can be done immediately after harvesting even at night.” More importantly, it results in minimal handling of seeds, which prevents seed contamination.
According to Abon, heat normally builds up during storage before the drying process. In the conventional method, the heat build-up starts during sack piling, which lasts for 13 hours, before drying, thereby subjecting the seeds to high temperature and causing these to deteriorate easily.
In the mechanized system, however, the seeds are dried immediately after hauling these from the field. Therefore, the chance for the seeds to deteriorate is slim.
The system also requires less labor so farmers might save cost with it. “We are still studying the system for other aspects that need evaluation. But we have proven that only four persons are needed to work the whole system,” says Abon. Yet the conventional method requires 10 to 14 persons.
By Myriam Garcia-Layaoen