By Vishia Mae J. Tolcidas
FITS OPA Negros Occidental
Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental–A young farmer-scientist has proven that the local strain of the nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) is an effective bio-control agent for armyworms.
Thirty-one year old Roland Quimpo of Barangay Camingawan here said armyworms infesting peanut plants in his farm were killed after three days of spraying the NPV solution. Quimpo is one of the 75 participants composed of farmer-leaders and local agriculturists at the ongoing Science and Technology Program for the Development of a Sustainable Corn-based Farming System being held at the Negros State College of Agriculture (NSCA) in this progressive southern city.
Though uninterested at first, Quimpo wanted to see the effect of the microorganism in his farm after the NSCA corn experimental farm showed very good results. “I observed that the worms vomited, no longer ate the leaves of my plants, became weak, their rears turned up, and died. I found black spots on their abdomen,” reported the farmer-leader, who was the first among the participants to try the NPV solution outside NSCA.
Before spraying NPV on armyworms at the NSCA experimental farm as well as in his farm, he and his fellow participants tested the microorganism in plastic jars and saw the worms die after a few days.
Quimpo said he then sprayed NPV on infested palay and did not find any worms after several days. He also sprayed on ampalaya when he saw green-colored worms eating the leaves at night. “The worms did not finish eating all the leaves, and after the third day, new growth of leaves formed,” he said.
In his barangay, farms affected by the worms are scattered in various puroks but the most affected were three puroks including Tamlang where his farm is located.
“I demonstrated the spraying of NPV in the palay farms of my fellow farmers in our cluster. After several days, they were so happy to find many dead worms and gave them to me,” he said.
“This means that NPV as a microbial pesticide is working. I could see its killer effect on the armyworms and cutworms,” said the organic farming practitioner, who belongs to the Organic Village of Camingawan. “If NPV as a natural enemy of pests would be mass-produced, it could greatly benefit us, farmers, and contribute so much to the organic program of the province,” he said.
For Quimpo, pests could be killed by pests themselves.
Armando Abaño, Corn Integrated Pest Management Specialist of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist – Negros Occidental, who is also the lead instructor of the training, said the original NPV strain used at NSCA came from the farm of Fely Torrefranca in Barangay 4, Poblacion, Moises Padilla. It was part of a discovery-based study during a Farmers Field School (FFS) on Rice that he conducted in 2009. The NPV was collected by FFS graduate Loreto Leaño and cultured by fellow graduate Edith Gallardo after Abaño’s investigation.
“Armyworms are being investigated at the NSCA corn experimental farm and further studies by farmers themselves have to be conducted to confirm the effectiveness of NPV,” he said.
Actual testing in the first cropping season is conducive and timely after it was preceded by a long dry spell like the El Nino phenomenon that favors the proliferation of these pests. Testing should also be done in a specific location of the pest population, he added.
In an armyworm-infested sugarcane in Sitio Cambugnay, Barangay Cabacungan, La Castellana, Abaño and his agriculturist-wife, Maria Luisa, found out that armyworms were killed after cultured NPV from the original source in Moises Padilla was applied,” disclosed Abaño.
Abaño has already sent three NPV specimen such as the original cultured NPV solution from Moises Padilla, infected armyworm from NSCA, and infected armyworm from Brgy. Camingawan, Kabankalan City for confirmation by the Bureau of Plant Industry in San Andres, Manila.
Andy Carampatana of the Kabankalan City Agriculture Office, a co-trainor of Abaño, said he prepared a strong NPV solution for the participants' use by putting more dead and mashed armyworms with less water.