Advocate of pesticide-free agriculture
IT IS ALWAYS educational and rewarding to talk to people who have hands-on experience in good agricultural practices. Just like Michael Batayola of Bantayan Island in Cebu, who has been growing food crops that don’t have to be sprayed with chemical pesticides.
His approach is to provide the plants with balanced nutrition so that they will grow fast and healthy without the need to spray them with expensive and dangerous synthetic chemical pesticides. In his own farm in Bantayan Island in the last couple of years, his eggplant did not suffer from any damage by fruit and shoot tip borers. He has also helped many other farmers improve their farming by teaching them to feed their plants with the right nutrients for balanced nutrition.
His approach in farming is very scientific. First, he has to know the pH of the soil so he can give the right recommendation. He has the latest pH meter that can give him immediate information on the pH of the soil. If the soil is acidic, say 4.5 pH, he will tell the farmer not to apply chemical fertilizer in the soil because that would be useless. The plants will not be able to absorb the fertilizer applied in the soil. Instead, Mike would recommend foliar spraying of urea to provide the nutrients needed by the plants. Meanwhile, the soil should be improved with the application of biochar like carbonized rice hull or soil conditioner and pH enhancer like Green Cal which contains calcium sulphate dihydrate, calcium, and sulfur.
Just like many other farmers, Michael started planting hybrid vegetable seeds from East-West and Allied Botanical the conventional way. While he got good harvests, he had to resort to buying medicine for headaches and other ailments brought about by his use of chemical pesticides.
Michael Batayola (left) standing in a farmer’s field of cabbage grown without any chemical pesticide. (Above) A close-up of cabbage not sprayed with chemical pesticide.