You would think that 2005 Davao del Sur Outstanding Farmer, 2006 Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development Magsasakang Siyentista, 2008-Department of Agriculture (DA) Outstanding Farmer, 2009 Micro-Entrepreneur of the Year, and DA Outstanding Farmer in the Organic Farming Category multi-awardee Benjamin “Ben” R Lao would fear nothing when it comes to farming.
But he is very grateful that he planted nitrogen-fixing species on his farm such as Flemingia macrophylla, Desmodium rensonii, and Indigofera anil in order to help restore the fertility of the soil. That’s because the soil had become so infertile, not even cogon grass would grow on it. There were coconut trees growing there which yielded 400-600 nuts every three months; after the nitrogen-fixing species were planted, yield increased dramatically to 15,000 nuts per quarter. In addition, the nitrogen-fixers are also good forage for his livestock; the legumes contain as much as 16 percent crude protein.
What caused the soil’s infertility in the first place? Soil erosion. “I am thankful to the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) for helping me realize (the importance of protecting) my soil from erosion,” Ben said in an exclusive interview. “By doing so, I was able to increase my coconut production. In addition, the leaves of the various nitrogen-fixing species even help restore the fertility of my soil.”