During our first trip to the Cadu Farms, it was so hot and humid. [Well, we woke up later than our planned, 7 am trip.] We also had to talk to Fernando "Ando" Eugenio, who is the brother and caretaker of the Eugenio-Magano Family farms. By the time we had our talk, ate the watermelon and bananas, it was already well past 10 am. We had four farms to visit in Cadu, Ilagan, all owned by the Eugenio-Magano family. We only had a chance to get "bird-bath" view of the farms, and took pictures only of the last farm. It was so hot and humid, we were preparing "buckets of sweat" [Well it felt like it when you don't sweat much.] We retired to the cool breeze of the "kamalig" in Farm 01. And talked more, before we parted ways and went home.
Fig. 01. Giant cumulus clouds developing in the sky above Cadu Farms. [Read "Cumulus clouds" in Reference Desk" to learn how cumulus clods may develop into rain clouds.]
Since it was difficult for us to wake up so early, like farmers do, we decided to visit the farms again two days after our first visit; this time later in the afternoon to avoid the noon hot sun. That's when we got caught in a May rainstorm in Cadu, Ilagan. It was so bad (especially just using a tricycle for our travels) that we had to seek shelter in Fuyo, Ilagan.
However, this is not a revelation about the "harrowing experience" we had, caught in a rainstorm in May-- because t could be really dangerous, like getting struck by lightning) -- but more the significance of the rainwater of May, in relation to our Ecoculture projects.
Water Resources and Ecoculture Farms
For a more systematic conversion of existing "monoculture" farms to what we refer to as Ecoculture Farms, our first priority is a more thorough inventory of commercial crops already grown in the farms, as well as indigenous plants and other flora and fauna that thrive in the locality and in the region. We pay attention also to the disappearance of flora and fauna that were once abundant in the locality and the region.
Our goal eventually is to restore biodiversity in the existing "monoculture" farms such that the resulting flora and fauna along with well thought and integrated Ecoculture practices would create an ecosystem that would approximate that of the tropical rainforest. In EcocCulture, unlike the tropical rainforest, our goal in "ecological intensification" is to optimize the harvest of crops and resources while at the same time create dynamically stable and sustainable ecosystems.
Water resources. Apart from biodiversity and ecodiversity, EcoCulture depends so much on the availability of ample water supply and its wise use and recycling to meet the needs of the ecosystem year round. Towards this goal, we chose the location of Santo Tomas, Naguilian farms for our project, in part because of the Mallig Creek that borders the Southern portion of the farms. As it turned out, the Mallig Creek, so far has water year round.
We have not found any nearby creek nor spring in the Cadu area where the Eugenio-Magano farms are located. The Cadu farms therefore will be dependent on rainwater during the rainy season to supply the rain during the dry season, and more so when El Nino comes.
Water Conservation and Recycling. Water conservation and recycling would be critical to prolong the water reserve stored from previous year before the coming rainy season arrives. To achieve this, our EcoCulture projects will explore, investigate and implement techniques and measures to:
- Optimize water sequestration from rainwater during the monsoon season, and other surface water sources (river, creek, spring, if available)
- Minimize surface water evaporation (e.g., pond water surface covers, using plants and constructions)
- Minimize water loss through evapotranspiration (e.g., cultivate xerophytic plants and cut perennial hydrophilic plants, if applicable, during the dry season)
- Adopt techniques that will minimize use and conserve water (e.g., micro-irrigation, subsoil irrigation, soil cover, mulching, etc.)
As much as possible,drawing water from underground water sources must be minimal, and use this "finite" resource only as a last resort, for example during prolonged drought that occur during the onset of El Nino.
Rains of May. During the long dry season (December to May), stored rainwater during the rainy season would be most critical. The previous year rainwater reserve may be augmented with the rainwater during the "rainstorms" of May.
The rains of May are sporadic but can be very plenty in the form of rainstorms, that comes with lightning and thunder, usually late in the afternoon. In a matter of hours it will stop as abruptly as it started.
Because of the high volume of rainwater pouring in such a short period of time, it triggers flash flooding in places where there is no adequate canal system to accommodate the converging flood of rainwater. The destructive effect of the converging water can cause massive erosion in the exposed (parched earth) fields near the end of the dry season.
Recharge of the underground water reservoir. During the occurrence of El Nino, prolonged hot temperature, no rain and subsequent drought will deplete the soil of much of its moisture. This may be mitigated if there is enough water underground.
To achieve this, the underground water reservoir must be replenished during time of plenty, i.e., during the rainy season (July to November) each year. It will require sequestering water in place, using ponds or embankments (terracing), flood plains or lagoons, or use organic dams of Vetiver rows (see Vetiver) against the flow of the converging rainwater.
The transient sequestration of water will allow the rainwater during the monsoon season to percolate through the subsoil to the deep underground water reservoirs. If done regularly and systematically, it may allow the deep underground water reservoirs to become source of precious water during prolonged drought, as would happen during El Nino.
EcoCulture Water Resources Projects. One of the major focus of our EcoCulture projects, from the very beginning, is to develop infrastructures
- sequestration ponds (with goal to store "all" of the rainwater falling into our EcoCulture lands)
- transient sequestration infrastructures
- organic dams
- water treatment and recycling
and, investigate and adopt cultivation practices
- ground covers
- surface water covers
- xerophytic plants
to store, conserve and recycle water.
This is a stub. [1st draft, complete figure text, metadata, etc.]
Photos by Jun Guarin and CGC. Copyright ©2014 Kalikasan Philippines.